Skip to main content

Finding Quantitative or Qualitative Nursing Research Articles: Search Strategies

Covers brainstorming, searching, narrowing your results, evaluating and citing an article. Also has some helpful definitions.

What's on this page?

On this page you'll find search strategies to help you find specific types of articles.

Need to brush up on definitions? Go to the Helpful Definitions tab.

Want to start searching? Go to the Finding Articles tab.

Want to see some examples of different types of articles? Go to the Types of Articles tab.

Use the E-Resource's Tools

Database Tools:

Databases are here to help, and their tools are designed to do a lot of the work: narrowing down your results list to the most relevant articles.  Save yourself time by using limiting options like these:

You can go to Show More underneath the Publication Date slider in order to see all the options. Choices like Language or Journal Subset can limit the results to nursing journals, which can save you some time as you start to go through your search results.

Searching Tips

Connecting concepts...

  • Join similar ideas or alternate term with "OR."
  • Link different parts of your topic with "AND."
  • Exclude concepts with "NOT."

Keywords are...

  • 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.

Subject terms...

  • Every article or book is tagged with them.
  • They are specific, technical terms that describe what the article is about.
  • A good way to find everything on a topic.


  • Use a * at the end of a base word to find all variant endings
  • E.g. nurs* would include nurse, nurses, nursing, etc.

 Quotation Marks...

  • Use quotation marks around a phrase when you want to make sure the words to be next to each other in each of your results.
  • E.g. "health sciences"

Still not finding anything?  Ask a Librarian!

Finding Specific Types of Research: Keywords


Keywords are words or phrases that you use to describe your research topic - both the content (e.g. diabetes) and the research methodology (e.g. quantitative). You can use as many or as few keywords as you like, and you don't have to include a method, although it may help narrow down your search resullts. 


Finding Specific Types of Research: Subject Terms

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.

Please note: while searching by subject is awesome, most of the time keywords will get you what you need. If you're stuck, or just curious, consider contacting your librarian! 

Citation Searching

Did you know?

Screenshot of Cited By link in Google Scholar

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.