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NS 696 Individual Project

Searching Tips and Hings

  • Reflect on what you want to know - then develop a focused question.
  • Choose the best database to answer your question.  Follow with additional databases/resources.
  • CINAHL: when the problem falls within the fields of nursing or allied health
  • PubMed: when the problem is medical in nature or if you are unsure.  This is a much larger database than CINAHL
  • Search concepts separatedly, then combine using Boolean AND, OR, NOT.  Separate searches makes combining different results easier.
  • Make a list of synonyms for each search term/concept.
  • Use subject headings / controlled vocabulary whenever possible.
  • Use quotes around phrases, e.g. "pressure ulcer", when keyword searching.
  • Start broad and focus.
  • Adjust your search strategy as you evaluate the results.

Boolean Operators


Comparison Between GS, PubMed, and WOS

Too Many? Not Enought?

Finding too many articles?

  • Don't explode
  • Restrict subject heading to major concept
  • Choose all relevant subheadings
  • Use Limits: human, English, research articles, age group(s)

Need more articles?

  • Explode subject headings
  • Do not restrict to major concept
  • Ignore subheadings (keep important ones)
  • Search a broader time period
  • Use keywords
  • Use citations to find indexing terms (see tab Use Results to Dig Deeper)

CINAHL & Nursing Classification

CINAHL uses some subject headings that include acronyms at the end of the heading, such as Animal Assisted Therapy (Iowa NOC), Sensory-Perceptual Alterations (NANDA), or Risk Identification (Iowa NOC). These acronyms refer to nursing classification systems. When searching CINAHL for a topic, it is recommended that a more general subject heading be used. Only use the nursing classification subject headings if you are looking for records that specifically mention the classification.

NANDA. North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (added to CINAHL in 1989)

Iowa NIC. Nursing Interventions Classification from the Iowa Intervention Project (added to CINAHL in 1994)

Saba HHCC. Saba Home Health Care Classification (added to CINAHL in 1995)

Iowa NOC. Nursing Outcomes Classification from the Iowa Intervention Project (added to CINAHL in 1999).  Records are indexed with IOWA NOC terms only if the document states its use or inclusion.