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Nurse Theorists & Nursing Theories

This guide is a resource on finding materials on prominent nurse theorists and nursing theories

About Primary Sources

Primary sources for nursing theory are documents written by the theorist. Secondary sources are those written by someone else about the theory.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Books written by the theorist
  • Articles written by the theorist
  • A website maintained by the theorist containing the theorist's own words
  • An interview with the theorist containing the theorist's exact words
  • Other letters, reports, speeches or documents by the theorist

Steps for Finding Primary Sources

Even though it sounds easy enough to find primary sources, sometimes getting them from databases can be surprisingly difficult. Here are some of our best tips:

  1. Start with a secondary source that has a bibliography listing works by the theorist. 
  2. Check the authors of the individual chapters within the general nursing theory ebooks. Sometimes they are written by the theorist.
  3. For books, do an author search in the Library Catalog. Use the pull down menu to choose "author" and type in the search Last Name, First Name (ex. Leininger, Madeleine). See the Books tab on this guide for further information on finding books.
  4. For articles, perform an author search in CINAHL or one of the other databases listed in this guide. Go to the advanced search. Type in the theorist's name last name first (ex. Leininger, Madeleine) and use the pulldown menu to select "Author."  Note: in CINAHL and some other databases, authors are usually listed using their last name and initials only.
  5. If  the theorist maintains her or his own website, use this as a primary source.
  6. If all else fails: In theSingleSearch box, type the author's name in the box, last name first (ex: Leininger, Madeleine) and click on search. On the results screen, change the drop down menu from Keyword to an author search and click search again. If you wish, look on the left side for the Source Type box and select Primary Source Documents; click on update.