Evid Based Nurs doi:10.1136/eb-2014-101946
  • Research made simple

Bias in research

  1. Helen Noble2
  1. 1School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK
  2. 2School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Joanna Smith
    , School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield HD1 3DH, UK; j.e.smith{at}

The aim of this article is to outline types of ‘bias’ across research designs, and consider strategies to minimise bias. Evidence-based nursing, defined as the “process by which evidence, nursing theory, and clinical expertise are critically evaluated and considered, in conjunction with patient involvement, to provide the delivery of optimum nursing care,”1 is central to the continued development of the nursing professional. Implementing evidence into practice requires nurses to critically evaluate research, in particular assessing the rigour in which methods were undertaken and factors that may have biased findings.

What is bias in relation to research and why is understanding bias important?

Bias is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “an inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair”; “a concentration on an interest in one particular area or subject”; “a systematic distortion of statistical results due to a factor not allowed for in their derivation” ( Understanding research bias is important for several reasons: first, bias exists in all research, across research designs and is difficult to eliminate; second, bias can occur at each stage of the research process; third, bias impacts on the validity and reliability …

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