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Nursing Literature Research: Home

Learn about nursing resources and how to cite them.

Effective Searching Outline

Steps for effective research:

Determine the topic.

  • Write down the words you think best describes that topic (such as heart, nursing).  These will be Keywords.
  • Underneath these keywords write any synonyms or related terms that may be used in place of the keywords (cardiac heart, nursing, nurse, etc.).  Changes in spelling will change your results.
  • An excellent way to discover additional keywords is to look at books, reference works, e-books, internet, etc.  This will also give you a good foundation for your research.  Use Alma, Primo, or individual databases (see video) to locate these resources.

Turn your topics into effective search terms.

  • Decide if your search term is a commonly used phrase, e.g., “cardiovascular disease,” or two separate ideas, e.g., “cardiac” and “nursing” 
  • Combine terms.  
  • AND will require eaxh term to be present in the material retrieved. (e.g. cardiac AND nursing).  This will focus your search.  The more individual terms with AND between, the narrower and more specific your search results.
  • Combining terms is a step in Boolean algebra.  See the Boolean Machine for visual examples of Boolean searches.
  • OR is another way to combine terms.  OR is used to combine synonyms or related terms (e.g. (heart or cardiac)).  OR phrases are always surrounded by parentheses (heart OR cardiac) AND nursing..  Using OR expands your results.  You are essentially doing more than search at a time.

Select the darabases that are most relevant to your topic by reading the descriptions.  Collections such as EBSCO or Gale Access allow you to search multiple databases at the same time.

Some databases supply the AND for you.  Read search suggestions or HELP before searching a database.
Or combine phrases,using the command AND, e.g., “cardiovascular disease” AND “non-steroidal anti-inflammatery drugs”.

  • Combine terms to reduce the number of retrieved items.  ardiac ad nursing and united states
  • Combine terms to make the search more relevant.  Cardiac and nursing and BSN
  • Review subject headings or the thesaurus to see if there are any relevant keywords you may have missed

Identify credible sources, that is, reliable sources. 

  • Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate information and data you find, especially that from the Internet

Browse results of your search at each stage to determine if you have found relevant sources.  Retrieved items do not have to be perfect!  You can use relevant portions.  Use the abstracts to find relevant articles.  This will make reviewing your result lists go much faster.
If your results do not turn up satisfactory material, modify your search term(s) and try again.

Make sure to print out or note citations for each of the items you use.

APA citations will be available in most databases you use.  If not, use the appropriate APA manual, a reliable citation generator or the APA  section of the Purdue OWL website.  Make sure to use the rules for the most current version of the APA Manual. 

If you run into problems, or have difficulty with the research, ask the librarian for help.

Specialized Nursing Databases in the Library

The library subscribes to several specialized databases with nursing content. More detail can be found on the Journal Articles page of this Guide. Below are a few examples:

  • CINAHL Plus® - provides full text for more than 770 journals indexed in CINAHL®.
  • HealthSource Nursing - provides nearly 550 scholarly full text journal with coverage of many allied health topics.
  • PubMed - Indexes thousands of medical and dental journals, with full-text for many. No password required.

Library Contact Information

For help in research nursing and medical topics, please contact the library reference staff at 775-674-7602, or contact the reference librarians directly: