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NUR 7004 - Literature Search Tips for the Concept Analysis and Proposition Papers

General Tips for Keyword Searching in Article Databases and the Catalog

  • If your concept contains more than one word, put quotation marks around it: "patient centered care". Quotation marks force the words to be searched as an exact phrase rather than separate words. Words not enclosed in quotation marks will automatically be connected with an AND. "Patient-centered care" nursing is the same as "patient-centered care" and nursing.
  • Consider alternate spellings: "patient-centered care" or "patient-centred care"
  • If your concept is very broad and could retrieve results in many disciplines, consider adding the name of the discipline into the search. Search string examples include:
    • comfort nursing
    • ("patient centered care" or "patient centred care") nursing

      [Note: If you connect synonyms or alternate spellings with OR, enclose them in parentheses to ensure the search connectors are considered in the appropriate order].

Finding Books about Your Concept

  1. Search general and subject dictionaries and subject encyclopedia collections for your concept - see links under "Find books and articles for the Concept Paper and the Proposition Paper").
  2. Do a keyword search for your concept in the WSU Libraries Catalog or the OhioLINK Catalog for your concept (consider the general search tips above). Remember that catalog searches may identify many different types of sources, such as books, book chapters, or other publications like government documents, theses, or audio visuals. You can limit your search to books or ebooks.

General Tips about Finding Articles about Your Concept

  • If your concept is from a discipline outside of nursing, search the appropriate subject database(s) for that discipline, such as PsycINFO for Psychology and Education Research Complete or ERIC for Education.
  • If you are not sure what discipline(s) is relevant for your concept or if it is related to several disciplines, try searching QuickSearch or the Web of Science Core Collection. 
    • QuickSearch searches many different databases across disciplines and the Web of Science Core Collection searches several databases, but the most relevant for concepts are Social Sciences Citation Index and Science Citation Index-Expanded.  It also includes Book Citation Index for the social sciences and sciences, but only covers back to 2005 so you may not be able to use it to find a book about your concept.
  • Some databases, such as CINAHL and PsycINFO, include not just articles but books, book chapters, and dissertations, so you might consider limiting your search to peer-reviewed articles, unless you still need additional book references for your concept search.
  • Note: While searching the journal literature, you are likely to run across concept analyses on your concept that other authors have already published.  Be sure to check with your professor before using these existing concept analyses as sources for your paper.

 

Database-Specific Search Tips: CINAHL

  • Start with the general search tips at the top of this page.
  • You may NOT need to use research articles only for this paper, but you can select the "Peer-Reviewed" limiter to get only peer-reviewed journals. (This also eliminates theses and dissertations from the research results).
  • If you have too many results from searching by keyword, it may be helpful to determine if your concept has its own CINAHL Subject Heading.  If it does, you can search for your concept as a "Major Concept".
    • CINAHL Subject Headings are indexing terms that subject experts assign to articles to indicate what their focus is.  They serve a function similar to Twitter hash tags.  If your concept has its own subject heading, searching by major subject will reduce the number of results.  Instead of just looking for your concept name anywhere in the title, abstract, or keywords of articles, it will only find articles where that concept has been listed as a main topic of the article.
    • This "Using CINAHL/MeSH Headings" video demonstrates how to use the "Suggest Subject Terms" checkbox to identify and search on a subject heading for a given keyword or concept.  Check the "Major Concept" box if you want to narrow the retrievals to articles where that subject is the main focus.
    • Putting TI in front of your concept name in CINAHL tells CINAHL to search only for that word if it is in the title of the article.  
      • TI comfort gets articles with the word comfort in the title of the article.

Database Specific Search Tips - PubMed

  • Start with the general search tips at the top of this page.
  • Keep your PubMed search simple at first.  Just type both of your concepts in the PubMed single search blank WITHOUT parentheses, quotation marks, truncation symbols, or Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).  Then, switch the sort order from "most recent" to "best match". PubMed often does a good job of interpreting your search to include your search terms as both keywords and subject headings, and the best match usually gives the most relevant results first.
  • If you don't like the results you got from the simple search with the best match sorting option, determine if your concept has its own Medical Subject Heading (MeSH). If it does, you can search for your concept as a "MeSH Major Topic".
    • Medical Subject Headings are indexing terms that subject experts assign to articles to indicate what their focus is.  They serve a function similar to Twitter hash tags.  If your concept has its own subject heading, searching by major subject will reduce the number of results.  Instead of just looking for your concept name anywhere in the title, abstract, or keywords of articles, it will only find articles where that concept has been listed as a main topic of the article.
    • This "Use MeSH to Build a Better Query" video demonstrates how to use the MeSH Database to identify and search on a subject heading for a given keyword or concept.  Check the "Restrict to MeSH Major Topic" box if you want to reduce the retrievals to articles where that subject is the main focus (or change [Mesh] to [Majr] in your search strategy.
  • [ti] (including the square brackets) immediately after your concept with no space in between searches for your concept in the article title.  
    • Comfort[ti] searches for articles with the word comfort in the title of the article.​

Database-Specific Search Tips - PsycINFO

  • Start with the general search tips at the top of this page.
  • Use the "Peer-reviewed Article limiter".
  • You can limit your results by research methodology type in PsycINFO, but it is probably not necessary to get that specific when searching for your concept.  You may not be required to use only research articles for this paper, but if you are, make sure that your articles have a methods section
  • PsycINFO has its own subject headings (thesaurus), and there may be a subject heading for your concept.  If your concept is available as a subject heading, you may want to select the "Major Concept" option for that term. 
    • Video demonstration from the American Psychological Association of how to use the PsycINFO Thesaurus.
      • DE "Mental Health" finds articles where the term mental health has been assigned as an indexing term/subject of the article.
      • MM "Mental Health" is more specific.  It still finds articles where "mental health" is a indexing term/subject of the article, but it must be a heavily weighted, major concept in the article.  Subjects searched as MM retrieve fewer results than when they are searched with DE.
  • As an EBSCO database, PsycINFO's interface has many similarities to that of CINAHL.  One is:
    • TI "mental health" retrieves articles where the phrase mental health is in the title of the article. Enclosing the words in quotes ensures that they will be searched as an exact phrase.

QuickSearch

Database Specific Search Tips - Web of Science Core Collection

  • Start with the general search tips at the top of this page.
  • Web of Science Core Collection is comprised of multiple databases which cover the broad disciplines within the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, so you will likely get a very large number of results when searching for a concept. 
    • To narrow your results:
      • ​Search for your concept in the Title of the rather than the Topic.  (Change the drop-down menu to the right of your search blank from "Topic" to "Title".
    • Use the Refine options to the left of your results list.
    • Add more keywords to your search, connecting them with AND, for example: comfort and nursing
    • Use more specific search terms, for example: comfort and palliative nursing

Narrowing Your Results

Most databases allow you to refine your results by additional subjects, date, type of source, and more after you have run your search.  In the databases mentioned above, these limits and refining options tend to appear to the left of the results list.  

Please e-mail Ximena (ximena.chrisagis@wright.edu) if you are having trouble narrowing down your retrievals or if you have other questions about your search process.