Skip to Main Content

finding NURSING INFORMATION: search for journal articles

types of nursing information    start with a good topic    decide what kind of information you need    search for journal articles    search for books    search for statistics    evaluating search results    getting full-text    journal title abbreviations    citing sources    getting citations automatically via e-mail   

paper clip In order to search for journal articles, you need to choose a database that specializes in nursing, specifically, or medicine, in general. If you go to the library's Research Database Locator, you will see that there is a link to nursing. If you click on nursing, you will be presented with the best databases to search for nursing articles. Notice that the Research Database Locator also lists the subjects health and medicine, pharmacy, and sociology. Depending on your topic, you might choose a database presented for one of these subjects (or perhaps another subject).

Before you choose a database, you should read the basic tips offered below.

paper clip

stethescope   Tips for getting what you need

Library databases are not very smart. If you enter a word in the test box, the database will only find that word if it appears exactly the same as how you type it (for example, if you type nursing but the citation has the word nurses, the database will not find it). After the database searches, it will give you a list off all the citations it found that included your word.

What is a citation? A citation includes bibliographic information (the information that appears in works cited pages); it may also include an abstract (short summary) and/or descriptive terms.

Sample citation:
Title: The use and evaluation of search databases by professional nurses: a case study.
Author(s): Pajarillo E
Source: Electronic Library (ELECTRONIC LIBR), 2001; 19(5): 296-306 (12 ref)
Publication Type: journal article - case study, questionnaire/scale, research, tables/charts
Language: English
Major Subjects: Search Engines--Evaluation; Computerized Literature Searching, End User; Information Retrieval--Evaluation; Registered Nurses
Minor Subjects: Nurse Attitudes; Female; Search Engines--Utilization; Information Needs; Interview Guides; Medline; Graphical User Interface; New York
Abstract: Nurses are constantly faced with information needs to keep up in the fast pace, ever-changing state of health and nursing. Information that is available through advancing computer and technology is oftentimes difficult and cumbersome to learn and access. This is a case study of how three nurses used and evaluated three different types of information search databases in terms of three measure criteria. The results are useful in guiding nurses to use these information sources, as well as other database users with little or no experience in searching such systems. Insights from the study can also assist system designers and programmers in future planning and redesigns of these systems, in order to maximize use and expand the user base of these search systems.

stethescope   4 essential commands for searching library databases

If you are looking for articles in a database, there are 4 essential commands you must know. Since a database can only do a word search, make sure you pick words that are important for your topic. Don't enter words like, "patients, causes, results from, effects". These words come up in so many citations that they cease to be useful.

Commands (Boolean Operators):

Command 1 = AND
AND Narrows your search. AND retrieves records containing all of the words you type.
Example: bulimia AND prozac (finds articles that have both words bulimia and prozac in them)

Command 2 = OR
OR Broadens your search (finds more). OR retrieves records containing any of the words you types.
Example: bulimia OR anorexia (finds articles that have either the word bulimia or anorexia in them)

Command 3 = NOT
NOT Narrows your search. NOT eliminates results that contains the words you type.
Example: eating disorders NOT anorexia (finds articles that have the words eating disorders in them but do not have anorexia)

Command 4= Parenthesis
Parentheses let you create complex searches. Put one topic only in a set of paretheses.
Example: (anorexia OR bulimia) AND (fluoxetine OR moclobemide)
Because parentheses can be tricky, here is another example: (obesity or overweight) NOT (children OR adolescents)

Examples of what not to do:

how many people are diagnosed with cancer each year
Why is this bad? If you type a sentence, the database has to find that exact sentence in a citation. It is not very likely that a citation will contain the exact sentence you type.
What would be better (try to think about what words would consistently appear in a citation on the topic)? Try: cancer AND diagnoses AND statistics

effect of sun exposure
Why is this bad? For the same reason, if you type a phrase, the database has to find that exact phrase.
What would be better? Try: sun exposure AND adverse effects

sports injuries
Why is this bad? Some citations may say, "injuries resulting from sports". Our search would miss those. Also, if the citation presented information on a specific sports injury, such as hairline fracture, torn ACL, we would not find it.
What would be better? Try: (sport OR sports OR football OR soccer OR running) AND (injury OR injuries OR torn ACL OR hairline fracture)
You could add more sports to the search or other kinds of injuries.

The commands AND, OR, NOT, Parentheses, can be used with great success in any of the library's research databases. If your search doesn't seem to be working, try different words. Remember the database will only find a word if it appears in the citation exactly how you entered it. Also, look at your search to make sure you haven't included any unnecessary words. Searching usually takes several tries. Don't be discouraged if you don't find what you need the first time.

back   start   forward  

for help finding nursing information, contact:
to comment on this tutorial, contact: