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Nursing: Literature Searching Tips

A representative collection of library resources and links to other good information on hot topics in nursing.

Searching using AND, OR and NOT (Boolean Searching)

  • Use AND when combining terms will narrow down your results. e.g. stroke AND blood pressure reduction.
  • Use OR when combining similar terms into search OR will broaden your results. e.g. blood pressure OR hypertension.
  • Use NOT when you wish to exclude terms or topics from your search stroke NOT brain injury.
  • Click here for examples

Subject Headings vs. Keywords

Using a combination of subject headings and keywords will help you be successful in your searching.

Using a combination of subject headings and keywords will help you be successful in your searching.

Search Limiters

When doing a search there are different way you can narrow down your search results using limiters.

  • Age is important. Studies done on children are different that studies done on adults. – child, adult 65+, all adults, etc.
  • Publication types limit you to specific studies.
  • Any search restrictions – anything related to your topic that you wish to exclude.
  • Avoid bias, use generic limitations only where strictly necessary, e.g. avoid restrictions such as limiting to US studies only, studies published since 2010, or English language only.

What are the Characteristics of a Research Article?

Types of Articles

  • Critically Appraised Individual Articles: (e.g., Evidence-Based Nursing, Evidence-Based Medicine, Evidence-Based Mental Health, ) Primary research articles within the discipline are selected for quality and clinical relevance. A structured abstract and expert commentary are provided for each study.
  • Critically appraised topic (CAT):  Quick assessment of the evidence about a topic or intervention based on the evidence.

  • Clinical Evidence: Summarizes the current state of knowledge about the prevention and treatment of clinical conditions, based on thorough searches and appraisal of the literature. It describes the best available evidence from systematic reviews, RCTs, and observational studies where appropriate, and if there is no good evidence it says so.

  • Click here for information about Independent and Dependent Variables

Quantitative research methods seek empirical support for research hypotheses. This research is based on traditional scientific methods, which generate numerical data and usually seeks to establish relationships between two or more variables, using statistical methods to test the strength and significance of the relationships.

Examples of Quantitative research methods:

·        Clinical trials

·        Exploratory studies

·        Predictive studies

·        Randomized Control Trials

Qualitative research methods are used to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. This research investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often used than large samples.

Examples of Qualitative research methods:

·        Case Study 

·        Ethnography 

·        Grounded Theory 

·        Historical method

·        Interviews

·        Phenomenology 

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