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Nursing - Information Literacy

Searching the Databases

  • Go to the Hoffman Family Library homepage at: a right click and open another tab or window to prevent leaving this page)
  • Select the tab for "Databases"
  • Click on Databases A - Z and select a general database like Academic Search Premier or select from a list by clicking on All Subjects (Nursing for example)
  • Academic Search Premier contains a wide range of subject matter and can be a good place to start but for most topics you will probably need to also look at a more subject specific database. (See the box below for a select list of databases by subject).
  • Many databases are set up with 3 search boxes already connected by AND **
  • Remember:
  • One concept in each box
  • Synonyms or related terms for a concept go in the same box connected by OR

**note that you do not have to use all 3 search boxes and that you can usually add more search boxes.

When selecting a database to start with, consider the time frame as well as the coverage of your topic.

  • For example, CINAHLComplete covers more than 3,800 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health, with indexing for selected journals back to 1937.
  • All searchers of nursing information should always search MEDLINE, the premier biomedical database, because it indexes many of the international nursing journals that are not indexed in CINAHL and contains articles of interest to nurses that are published in biomedical journals.
  • PsycINFO is a major database covering the scholarly literature in the psychological, social, behavioral, and health sciences, with selected coverage back to the 19th century. When your topic has any psychosocial or behavioral aspect, consider PsycINFO or Psychology Journals
  • Proquest Central is multidisciplinary resource for research on contemporary topics or for the beginning stages of a research project. Offers citations from a wide range of English language academic journals, news magazines, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

After your initial search in a database,  you may want to narrow and/or limit your results. Many databases allow you to limit your results to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals and also to limit by date range, subject, publication type, etc.

In EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, ERIC, Medline (EBSCO), & PsycINFO) the options for narrowing are on the left side of the screen. 

To try out limiting, look on the left side of the results page for a section titled Refine Results for ways to limit.    

     1.Scholarly (

To practice--Click Scholarly (peer reviewed) and then look at the total (above Refine your Results) to see how it changes.  Note also that the limits you apply are listed under the results total and can be removed by clicking the X.

      2. Date range--Use the sliders to adjust to the date desired and then Click the Update button.
To practice--Try moving the left slider to limit to the last 5 or 10 years to see how that changes your total.

         Notice that further down you can also narrow results by:
  •    Source types
  •    Subject
  •    Geography
      3. Click on  Show More (a hyperlink immediately underneath the right hand date in the date slider). This opens up a page which includes some of the limits discussed above along with a few additional ones including publication type and language.
To Practice--Find the limit labeled language, click on English and then click Search at the top or bottom of the page. Your results will now be limited only to items written in English.
4.  Full Text. You may have noticed a box which enables you to limit to items available full text in the database you are using. Full text is a limit you should not use. Sometimes the library will have access to an article through a different database or journal subscription and you will be able to get to it using Article Linker or if the library does not have access, you can order the article through Interlibrary Loan (see Module 7 for information about using Article Linker and about ordering through Interlibrary Loan). Using the Full Text limiter may cause you to miss an article which is vital to your research which is why its use is not recommended.
5. Non-EBSCO databases will have similar limits available but they may be found in different areas of your results page. Contact a librarian if you have questions about limiting your search