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Advanced Health Sciences Research

This guide is designed to assist Nursing and Health Sciences students with research projects.

Tips for Finding Nurse Authored Articles

  1. Click "Advanced Search" (below the search fields) to open the advanced search options menu, and select "Any author is Nurse."
    Note:this often creates a search with very limited search results - try the suggestions below if results aren't suitable.


 

  1. Enter nurs* in a search field and change the search field option to "AF Author Affiliation.
    The asterisk (*) acts as a 'wildcard' and enables a broad search for words such as "nurse," "nurses," "nursing," etc. The AF Author Affiliation search limiter looks for the "nurs*" term in an author's job title or institutional affiliation (such as the nursing faculty at a university).


     
  2. For a broad search for articles with a nursing perspective or focused on the nursing profession, add "nurs*" as a keyword. 
    The asterisk (*) acts as a 'wildcard' and enables a broad search for words such as "nurse," "nurses," "nursing," etc. Adding this term to your search can help retrieve articles that may not be written by nurses, but those published in nursing or other healthcare journals or with a nursing focus.


     
  1. When conducting a search, enter RN, RPN, PN, or other nursing credentials as a keyword. Check results carefully to ensure that the author is a nurse (see below). 

    Read carefully! Look at article bylines or author biographies (often on the first or last page of an article) for RN (Registered Nurse), RPN (Registered Practical Nurse), or other professional credentials. If a credential is unfamiliar (i.e., ARNP = Advanced Registered Nurse Practicioner) try a google search to determine nursing qualifications.


     
  2. For a broad search for articles with a nursing perspective or focused on the nursing profession, add "nurs*" as a keyword. 
    The asterisk (*) acts as a 'wildcard' and enables a broad search for words such as "nurse," "nurses," "nursing," etc. Adding this term to your search can help retrieve articles that may not be written by nurses, but those that are published in nursing or other healthcare journals or have a nursing focus.

Tips for Finding Canadian Information

Other Databases

  • Add AND Canad* to your subject search in any database;
  • Try using the word Canad* in the field that denotes: Publication Name, Journal Name, or Publication Title.
  • For a Canadian point of view on a topic try searching for Canadian News information.

Tips for Finding Literature Reviews in Databases

Literature reviews are a good place to start your research. They give an overview of the research that has been done in a specific field, review the most important points of current knowledge on a specific topic, and list seminal articles. Just note that possibly not all topics will be covered in a literature review article.

Below are tips for searching in specific databases, but in all these databases you can also try these techniques:

  • for quantitative studies try the keyword meta-analysis and for qualitative studies try meta-synthesis
  • add literature review* as a search term along with your subject
  • try searching the term literature in the title field

Quantitative Information

In the Abstract field of the search box try any of these related terms: quantitative, cohort, valid*, hypothesis, instrument*, method*, reliabilit*.

Note: Sometimes you can quickly identify quantitative information in an article abstract by looking for numerical data expressed as a percentage, ratio, scale, equation, measurement etc.

Qualitative Information

In the Abstract field of the search box, try any of these related terms: qualitative, survey or surveys, interview*, observation*, narrative*, questionnaire*, focus group*, sample*, scale* etc.

Boolean Operators

Use boolean operators to make your search the most effective.

AND finds records with all of your terms/keywords and narrows your search.

OR finds records with any of the terms and broadens your search.

Truncation finds records with a term's various endings (ie. nurs* = nurse, nursing, nursed, nurses, nursing's).

Note: Our book catalogue uses $ as the truncation symbol, all other databases use *. If you are uncertain of the truncation symbol in any database, check the Help button and look for "Truncation".

Fixing Search Problems

Zero Results
  • first check your spelling :). And don't forget that British (paediatric) and American (maternal labor) spelling might effect your search results
  • try using a term that might be more inclusive. For example, if your search yields no results for achondroplasia, then try dwarfism, or even try musculoskeletal then AND this term with disorder* OR disease*.
Too Few Results
  • use truncation and OR (ie. baby OR babies OR infant* OR toddler*), (heart OR cardiac) to expand the results
  • find a CINAHL or MeSH Heading subject and click the Explode box to find all articles indexed with terms relating to your heading
  • search for articles listed in the bibliographies at the end of relevant articles that you do find
  • perform an Author field search for the names of relevant authors who are listed in these bibliographies
  • if you know a specific author, or journal title, or article title that is relevant to your topic, do a Cited Reference search in CINAHL to see all the articles that have referenced these.
  • click on Find Similar Results (Ebsco databases) or See similar documents (Proquest) from the full record page of a relevant article
  • try Cited References (CINAHL) on the search results page or References (Proquest) on the fulltext page for more relevant articles
  • try the Social Sciences grouping of databases if your topic is geared to social, psychological, or family issues
Non-relevant Results
  • use proper subject headings. For example, CINAHL uses Psychiatric Nursing rather than Mental Health Nursing
  • find a relevant article in your list of results, and use its proper subject headings to redo your search
  • try the Social Sciences grouping of databases if your topic is geared to social, psychological, or family issues
Too Many Results
  • if your search yields too many results (ie. diabetes), use AND to make it more specific (ie. diabetes AND therapy AND adult)
  • search for your terms in the Title field (from the pull-down menu in the "field" search box)
  • use database-specific proper Subject headings/terms
  • in CINAHL try specific Subheadings (by checking the box beside the blue hot-linked subject term, appearing after you have done a CINAHL Headings search)
  • find a CINAHL Heading subject and click the Major Concept box to see articles that emphasize your specific subject
  • use more limiters (ie. date range, publication type, special interest groupings, document type, journal title etc.)