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.

NUR 7004 - Theoretical Foundations for Nursing Practice: Find the Concept

This guide is intended to provide suggestions to help you find information for the assignments in NUR 7004.

Choosing Where to Search for the "Find the Concept" Assignment

Links to the databases and to video modules and other help are available in the bottom box of this center column.  For now, here are some Quick Tips to help you decide where to start your search.

  • If your concentration is clearly specific to Nursing, start in CINAHL.
  • If your concentration is clearly specific to Psychology, start in PsycINFO. (Psychiatric/mental health nurses should be able to find relevant results in both CINAHL and PsycINFO.  If you don't find enough in CINAHL, try PsycINFO).
  • If your concentration is very broad or multidisciplinary, consider searching QuickSearch and/or Web of Science Core Collection. 

QuickSearch searches many of the library's subscription databases simultaneously, so it covers a wide range of disciplines (including, but not limited to Nursing, Medicine, and Psychology) and publication formats (books, magazines, news, peer-reviewed journals, videos, government publications, and more).

The Web of Science Core Collection includes Science Citation Index -Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index so it is good for both the sciences and social sciences (including Nursing).

Identifying Research Articles with a Theory or Theoretical Basis for the Find a Concept Assignment

If you are having trouble finding research articles that use a particular theory, you can either search for theor* as a keyword along with your specialty or topic of interest (this searches for the keyword theory, theories, or theoretical--or you can use the subject heading for theory to focus in articles that include a theory as one of the article subjects.  Using subject headings might make the search results a bit more relevant and manageable for you.

The instructions below are for CINAHL. A similar approach could be used in PsycINFO or other databases.  However, the indexing terminology will be somewhat different in other databases. Please email Ximena for detailed help with other databases or if you have questions or problems with the CINAHL steps below.


CINAHL works best for topics related to nursing or allied health. If you need to search a topic that is broadly interdisciplinary or psychology-related and you have questions, please email Ximena.

Here is how you would use subject headings in CINAHL to search for articles that include a theory:

1. Start in CINAHL (link available in the next box or the Databases page).
2. Above the top search blank, check the “Suggest Subject Terms” box.
3. In the top search blank, type theory, then click the search button.
4. Then, on the next page, check the box to the left of theory.  Once the row is highlighted in blue, check  the “Explode” box in the same row.
5. You should now see the word Theory in the green outlined box on the far right with Explode checked (Major Concept is NOT checked).
Click “Search Database”.   This searches all subject headings related to different kinds of theories so if articles have theory as one of the subjects, a theory should be used in the article.   
6. You will now see the search (MH "Theory+") in the top search blank.  Get rid of the second parenthesis,  then type or theor*) on the same line. 

7. On the same line, type NOT “grounded theory”.  (Grounded theory is a type of qualitative research method so it is not an appropriate to use as a theoretical basis for your concept).

8. Note: Your top search blank should read:  (MH "Theory+" or theor*) NOT "grounded theory"
This search string gets articles that include different theories as a subject or the keywords theory, theories, or theoretical.
 9. Now, you can add keywords related to your specialty, concentration or topic on the second search blank and run the search again. This should bring your results down to a much smaller number. 
10. Now, use the limiters at the left to limit to “Research Article” and “Peer Reviewed”. I also recommend limiting by English language.  You can also apply date limiters, if needed. 

NOTE: If adding keywords for your concentration or topic gets too few results, consider repeating the subject heading process described above to do a subject search on your concentration.  This EBSCO video illustrates how to combine two subject heading searches into a single search .

11. Verify the articles you select are indeed research (have a results and methods section) and that they are more than just one or two pages.  CINAHL also includes abstracts from conference papers that include only the abstract, but the full paper is not available.  You want to make sure you have a full length research article.

12. Verify that the articles do actually make use of a theory or conceptual model and that they are not referring only to "grounded theory".  The search should have eliminated those instances but you still have to verify that it meets the requirements of the Find a Concept assignment listed in your syllabus. Including the keyword theor* in your search does not necessarily guarantee that the article will include a theoretical basis.

"How to" modules to help with database searching and links to databases for "Find the Concept"

There's usually more than one way to find something on the libraries' web site.  You do NOT need to use all of these links. Use the access point(s) you find to be the most efficient for you!

Ask Us

JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.

Ask your librarian!

Profile Photo
Ximena Chrisagis
Dunbar Library 120
(937) 775-3516

More Information Resources for...