Nursing: Search Strategy

Useful resources for research in Nursing.

Search Strategy & Tips

  1. State your topic or research question in your own words (example: Does having money really make you happy?).
  2. Identify the most important keywords (usually the nouns) or short, commonly used phrases.
  3. Think of variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms. It may help to check Thesaurus.com.
  4. Create an initial search statement using connectors or logical operators (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards.
  5. Try it out in one or more databases and/or Library Catalog.
  6. Look for other good keywords and subject terms in search results.
  7. Try revised searches until you're satisfied with the results.
  8. Depending on the volume of results, consider narrowing or broadening your topic.
  9. If you're having difficulties, contact us

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
   drug abuse or drug addiction  (finds either term)
   anorexia or anorexic
   anorexi(finds anorexia, anorexic, anorexics, etc.)

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
   bipolar disorder and drug therapy   (finds both terms)

Find less with NOT:
   attention span not adhd   (excludes records that mention adhd)

Sample search statement:
   (chest pain* or coronary) and rehospitalization

  • Narrow results with standard limiters (peer-reviewed, date, document type, language; etc.)
  • Some databases allow quotation marks for an "exact phrase"
  • CINAHL has specialized limiters for age groupsclinical queries (therapy, prognosis, reviews, causation inpatient, outpatient), CE Module, and Evidence-Based Practice options.
  • Try restricting some terms to the title or abstract field
  • Try restricting some terms to the subject or descriptors field. Subject terms can vary from database to database, but using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records. In CINAHL, you can also browse CINAHL Headings.
  • Look for different, relevant keywords or subject terms to try
  • Simplify your search by removing less critical search terms or limiters
  • Expand some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided
  • Try a different database or OneSearch
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Finding Scholarly Articles on Your Topic

Finding Scholarly Articles on Your Topic

These tutorials include practice in Neumann Library web-based resources and self-quiz questions to help you check your understanding.

8-26-2019: Update coming soon

(2:15) Learn how to locate full text using Find It @ UHCL, OneSearch, the Journals List, or by request.

(3:12) Distinguishes characteristics of scholarly articles/journals from those of popular articles/magazines. Peabody Library, Vanderbilt Univ.

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Essential Tools for Online Searching: AND, OR, and Wildcards

(1:43) Learn how logical operators AND and OR work to help you get good results in library research databases.

(1:55) Learn how to retrieve varying forms of a word and improve search results.

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