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Nursing - Evidence-Based Practice: Search Tips

Nursing: evidence-based practice

"I didn't know that Google Scholar could provide access to Simmons resources."

Search Tips

Search Language
  • A good way to start a search
  • The important concepts in your own words
  • Found anywhere in the article (title, author, subject terms, etc.)
  • Very flexible
Connecting Concepts
  • Join similar ideas or alternate term with "OR"
  • Link different parts of your topic with "AND"
  • Exclude concepts with "NOT"
Limit to Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly Articles
  • This is part of the publication & editorial process for academic and research journals
  • Being peer-reviewed is a sign that a paper's author(s) have done a certain level of due diligence in their work and their research is complete, manages conflicts-of-interest, and is fair and objective
Narrow the Date Range
  • When looking for Current Research or Evidence-Based Practices limit your date range to the last 3-5 years.

image of search example with keywords

Combine Meaningful Keywords

Think about the main ideas that are related to your topic. Try using the PICO format (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome). Use synonyms of your keywords to help find even more information. AND combines words. OR includes more words to look for.

image of search example using the and search operator and or search operator

Find Specific Article Types

Search systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, meta-Analyses, etc. using a text-box

image of search example using systematic review as search term

Search in Particular Ways

The quotation marks search for phrases. The asterisk find word variations (e.g. nurs* for nurse, nurses, nursing)

image of search example using systematic review as search term

Work With Search Results

You can select results to find full-text, a set date range, of only academic journals and more.

image of search example using systematic review as search term

Subject Terms

While keywords are search terms that you develop, subject terms are search terms that have already been developed - each article is already tagged with subjects terms that describe it. You can copy these terms into your search to use them as keywords, or you can go to CINAHL Headings and do a structured subject term search. While searching by subject is awesome, most of the time keywords will get you what you need.

image of search example looking up subject headings

Citation Searching + Simmons Full-Text

When you find a relevant article, you can use resources like Google Scholar and Scopus to see other articles that have cited the original one. Check out the Searching Citation Indices guide for more information about citation searching.

Add Simmons University in the Google Scholar settings to check for full-text - go to Library Links and search for Simmons University, and check the selection box the says, Simmons University - Check Simmons Full Text.

image of google scholar used for citation searching, full-text access, and date range

Search Syntax

diabetes mellitusUse quotations to keep words together in a search. ...clinical characteristics of diabetes mellitus in......for patients with diabetes mellitus......of diabetes mellitus on coagulation function...

*nurs*Use truncation for finding similar words. nursenursesnursing...

#p#ediatricUse the Hash Wild Card for alternate spellings.pediatricpaediatric

?aprot?ninUse the Question-Mark Wildcard for finding an unknown character.aprotinin

LGBTQ n5 caren[Number] policies:': recognition of older LGBTQ......LGBTQ young people in foster care... n5 finds up to 5 words apart.

electronic w3 recordsw[Number]electronic health recordelectronic citizen recordelectronic medication administration recordw3 finds up to 3 words apart from left-right.

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH terms) are categories applied by the National Library of Medicine to describe what medical publications are about.

The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus is a controlled and hierarchically-organized vocabulary produced by the National Library of Medicine. It is used for indexing, cataloging, and searching of biomedical and health-related information. MeSH includes the subject headings appearing in MEDLINE/PubMed, the NLM Catalog, and other NLM databases. (National Library of Medicine, MeSH Hompage)

Use MeSH terms for searching words based on the concepts they represent. Keywords can vary extensively in related articles, therefore subject headings like MeSH help gather resources based on subject matter. You can combine MeSH terms with specific keywords for effective search results. Using them can help you focus your database search to articles that address your research topic.

Learn About Medical Subject Headings

View this video from the UAB Lister Hill Library shows how to choose MeSH terms in PubMed.


National Library of Medicine (2019). Welcome to medical subject headings, Retrieved April 28, 2020 from

Search EBP sources in CINAHL

Select Evidence-Based Practice sources in the CINAHL search options.

evidence-based resourced selected in CINAHL
Select Evidence-Based Practice Resources in CINAHL

search options in CINAHL for publication and population information
Select Publication and Population Information in CINAHL

Nursing Journals & Authors

Find Nurses as Authors

On CINAHL's advanced search page, scroll down for more search options. You can select Peer-Reviewed Nursing journals and find Nurses as authors

image of CINAHL database advanced search options selecting nursing journals as a subset, 'peer reviewed' articles,  'any author is nurse

Citation Searching

You can use an article for more than just content. Use words/phrases in the subject terms or abstract that you can use as search keywords; find instruments, tests or measures you want to use in your own research; see what else the author has written; check the references for your own literature review; see what other articles have cited this article since it was published.

Resources with Citation Searching
image of citation searching in CINAHL and Google Scholar
Example of "cited by" links in CINAHL Complete and Google Scholar

Getting Full-Text

When you're looking at search results in a database you're going to see a few different ways to get to the full article.

examples of full-text options in databases
Get full-text in HTML, PDF formats. Access full-text through Google Scholar or Inter-Library Loan. View or listen to HTML text on your screen. View or download PDF files on your device. The “Find Full-Text” button offers possible full-text in Google Scholar, WorldCat, or the option to request an item through a borrowing system called inter-library loan.

Google Scholar + Simmons Library

Use Google Scholar to access Simmons University library resources and other full-text options.

  • Sign-in and go to Settings
  • Click Library Links
  • Search Simmons, select, and save
Google Scholar used to access Simmons Library resources
Google Scholar used to access Simmons Library resources