Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

NURS 200W: Principles of Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice

This guide is for students enrolled in NURS 200W at Behrend.

Using Databases

What should I type in?
  • Search for keywords.
    • Search for keywords, jargon, and specialized terminology. Think of your PICO question. What concepts must be mentioned in the articles you find?
      • Population
      • Problem
      • Intervention
      • Outcome
      • Context
    • Databases will show you articles that mention all of the words you type into the search boxes.

  • Plan to search for synonyms too.
    • Initial keywords may not work as planned. Plan to search for synonyms (other words and phrases) that refer to the same or a very similar concept.
  • Look for "subject headings" and search for them.
    • Pay attention to "subjects" or "subject headings" or "medical subject headings" listed near relevant articles. This is one way to identify language that experts use to describe your topic.
  • Tip: Quotation Marks
    • Place quotation marks around a phrase (anything more than one word). Doing this will search for the phrase exactly how you type it in. Quotation marks are not beneficial or necessary for just one word.
      • Example:    "quality of life"
  • Tip: Asterisks
    • Add an asterisk * after the base of a word. This will tell the database to search for variations of that word.
      • Example: nurs*
      • Results will include articles that mention any of the following words: nurse, nurses, and/or nursing.
Avoid irrelevant results.
  • Search for keywords in abstracts.
    • Because abstracts are summaries of articles, if your search terms are mentioned in the abstracts, chances are those articles will be very relevant to your topic.
    • Searching for keywords in article titles may be too limiting. Searching for keywords in the full text may show irrelevant results.
    • See the example below.

Image of a search in the database CINAHL showing location of specific fields to search

  • Sort the list of results by relevance.
    • Sometimes the default setting will list results by publication date.
  • Combine and exclude search terms.
    • You can type the following commands between your search terms to make the database work for you.
      • AND
      • OR
      • NOT
    • See the following example.

Image of a search in the database Cinahl.

Find more.
  • Look in the "References" section.
    • The "References" section of an article will list very relevant sources on your topic. Search for the titles of these articles in LionSearch or Google Scholar.
    • Lionsearch is the single searchbox located on the library's main page.
    • Google Scholar can be accessed at
  • Click on the "Cited By" links.
    • Many databases and Google Scholar have "Cited By" links. This link shows articles that reference the original article.


Other Databases