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Nursing: Create a Plan

Library resources for the College of Nursing

Searching Tips

Where can you find it?

If you are unsure of where to look, check the following table. It can help you decide where to look for information. First, what are examples of the types of information one may need?

·         General Info - examples: definitions, certification or degree info, professional practice standards, professional organization info

·         Drug/Supplement Info - examples: uses, effectiveness, interactions,  adverse reactions, dosage

·         Point-of-Care Info: products and/or services used at moment of care

·         Original Research - examples: benchmarks, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies

·         Data and Statistics - examples: population counts, GIS data, county income averages

·         Reviews: compilation or overview of research evidence

·         Full Text of an Article: when you have the citation, enter the article or book title in the search box

·         Book/eBook: print or online monographs

·         Class Textbook: course materials


Information Types

Sources (see box on the right for some examples)

Open Web
(ex: CDC)

Article Databases
(ex: CINAHL)

Informational Databases
(ex:BMJ Best Practice)

Library Catalog

General Info





Drug/Supplement Info





Best Practice Info





Original Research





Data and Statistics










Full Text of an Article/Book










Class Textbook





*Use in combination with other sources since the information here is likely to be incomplete.

**If provided by the professor, eReserves provide access to assigned articles or for a few chapters only!

Searching in a Database

Creating a Search

Use the details of your topic in order to compose a search.

Clinical Question (example): Is handwashing effective in reducing hospital aquired infections?

 (connect terms)



hand disinfection AND cross infection Results contain both of the terms
  2. OR cross infection OR hospital infection Results can contain any of the terms
  3. AND, OR

(hand disinfection OR handwashing)


(cross infection OR hospital infection OR nosocomial infection)

Results include both topics using any of the terms connected by OR.

 Too Many Results?

  • Combine different topics with ANDExample search: music therapy AND pain management
  • Use limiters/filters, usually on the left side
    • Limit by publication date
    • Limit to peer-reviewed articles
    • Limit by publication type (e.g., randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews)
  • If there are still way too many results
    • Choose a narrower subject. Example: Change from patients to adult patients or to female adolescents.


Too Few Results?

  • Add synonymous terms with ORExample search: coronary artery bypass OR CABG
  • Use truncation symbols (*, ?, $, etc. The chosen symbol varies by database.) Example search: nurs* - results: nursing, nurses, nursery, etc.
  • Choose a broader subject. Example: Change from corticosteroids to hormones, or change from pregnant women to all women.

Important Terms

  • Peer Reviewed Articles: Articles that have been evaluated by other professionals in the field to check for accuracy and adherence to disciplinary standards.
  • Qualitative Studies: Research on the quality of the experience under study. Investigates beliefs, attitudes, opinions, etc. Few participants, often less than 20. Usually includes quotations or transcripts of participants' conversations.
  • Quantitative Studies: Research that includes counting occurrences of the aspects of the phenomenon being studied. Counts may be incidence of disease or number of people who checked a specific box on a form. Many participants, usually more than 50. Usually includes tables and statistical information related to the data being counted.  
  • Scholarly Sources: Well researched sources that have been written for scholars and experts in the discipline area.
  • Standard Headings (Controlled Vocabulary): Specific words & phrases used in databases to standardize meaning and organize the content.
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): Subject headings created and updated by the National Library of Medicine and used within most biomedical databases, including PubMed, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL.

Source Examples

Descriptions and examples of sources:

1.    Open Web: 
(online encyclopedias and dictionaries, professional organizations’ sites, universities’ and colleges’ sites, and government sites)

2.    Article Databases: 
(these search in journals & books)

3.  Informational Databases: 
(these search within database-produced pages of information)