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NUR 330: Intro to Nursing as a Discipline and Profession

What is Quick Search?

Quick Search is Cline Library's discovery tool. It combines the "library catalog" and many of our online databases into one search. Quick Search is a good starting point for your research. If you are doing more advanced research in a specific discipline, you may want  to use a specific database

Included are:

  • Books (physical and ebooks)
  • Journals (print and ejournals)
  • Articles 
  • Images
  • Media items such as streaming videos, CDs, DVDs
  • Course Reserves

Note: Using the "Expand Results" feature will add items not available from Cline Library. NAU and CCC students, faculty and staff can use Document Delivery to obtain these items.

Find out more about how to use Quick Search.

Getting Started

By now you should have determined the key terms from your PICO question and relevant synonyms. Read the tips below to see best determine how to search each database for those terms.

Boolean Operators

Get a refresher on how to use AND, OR, & NOT in your search strategy.

Subject vs. Keyword

Subject headings describe the content of each item in a database usually using a controlled vocabulary. Use these headings to find relevant items on the same topic.  Searching by subject headings is the most precise way to search article databases.

It is not easy to guess which subject headings are used in a given database. Look for a link titled "headings" or "thesaurus" in each database to search for subject headings.

MeSH stands for Medical Subject Headings and are the subject headings used in PubMed.

Keyword searching is how you typically search web search engines.  Think of important words or phrases and type them in to get results.

Here are some key points about each type of search:

table with the difference between keywords and subject headings


This video will show you how to search for your topic using the MeSH terms you identified previously.

PubMed Tips

The video above says that it can take a few weeks for articles to be assigned MeSH terms, but in fact, there is a 70% backlog over the last 5 years. That means that only 30% of articles published in the last 5 years have MeSH terms assigned to them. If you search using only MeSH terms and limit to articles published in the last 5 years, you're missing 70% of the relevant content.

In order to combat this, PubMed has adjusted their search algorithms so that when you search using a "natural language" keyword, it'll find the appropriate MeSH term (if there is one) as well.

This image gives an example of how using quotation marks, boolean operators, and MeSH terms can change your search results. Takeaway = there isn't one perfect search that will get you to the articles you need. You will have to search and make adjustments and search again.

Get Searching!

Take those MeSH terms and synonyms we identified earlier and start searching the databases!

Some tips:

  • Start broad and then narrow your search down.
  • Use the filters to limit your results
  • Be sure to sort by relevance/best match (especially important in PubMed)
  • Don't limit to Full Text right away -- you can request articles we don't own through Document Delivery Services

For advanced users:

Short on time?  Try searching PubMed's Clinical Queries.  This search interface automatically applies optimized filters based on your question's clinical domain.

Video Tutorials

The first video below gives a quick 3-minutes introduction to searching in CINAHL.

The second video is an in-depth PubMed Searching Tutorial for Clinicians. It is about 45 minutes long.

Tips for using Google Scholar

Click on the "find@NAU" link to access full-text.





Step 1      CINAHL Headings 

Tip: In CINAHL the best way to search for information on a particular topic is to click on the "CINAHL Headings" (aka Thesaurus, Subject Headings) link above the search box(es).  Articles have been assigned CINAHL Headings to assist users in finding articles on specific topics. Type your term or phrase in the search box and click to go to that term in the list.  See example below: Nursing theory.

               CINAHL headings search

Step 2   Search terms outline

Tip: Select CINAHL Heading result if appropriate, for example, "Nursing Theory."

Tip: If there is not a CINAHL Heading, choose "Advanced  Search" and enter your terms as keywords.

Step 3   Browse additional terms

Tip: Select "Browse Additional Terms" to search for other CINAHL Headings for your topic. For example, leadership.

Step 4   Search Terms results page

Tip: Place check marks next to both CINAHL Headings, change the default "or" to "and" and then click "Search Database." By selecting "and" the search results will contain both CINAHL Headings.

Step 5

Article results page

Tip: View results. When you find an article you are interested in, look for PDF Full-Text links, or "Check for Full  Text" link. If it does not link to an article, then click "Request It."