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Graduate Nursing Research: Finding Research Studies

Tips & assistance with research from where to look, how to look and how to get articles


Why can it be so hard to find the right research article? 

There are many terms for research - study, trial, experiment.  There are also many ways to do research - observational studies, cohort studies, experimental studies, randomized control trials.

To add to this complexity, there are different ways to find research in the different search engines/databases.

This page is intended to help you find the research articles you need with the least amount of frustration.

Let us know how we do.

Quick tips

Use one or more of the following to find research articles.  (Works in most databases.)

Limit tab/link:  Publication types or article types; Clinical Queries; Journal Subsets

Subject terms/MeSH:  Use terms such as...Cohort Studies, Single-blinded Studies, Ethnographic Research, etc.

Keywords: random*, interview*, study, etc.

The * asterisk is used to get all endings for a word. e.g. random*= random, randomly, randomize, randomise, etc.

Step by Step

Step #1, look for Systematic Reviews

             Resources with nothing but systematic reviews:

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (EBM Reviews)
  • DARE: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (EBM Reviews)

          ~ You can search these together - Include synonyms/alternative terms, truncation, British spellings

 Resources that contain some systematic reviews:

  • CINAHL:  Under “Additional Limits”, try some of these:

Publication type: Systematic Reviews

Clinical Queries: Reviews (3 kinds, can select all)

  • MEDLINE:  Under “Additional Limits”, try some of these:

            Subject Subset:  Systematic Reviews

            Publication type: Meta-analysis

            Clinical Queries:  Reviews (Optimized)

 Step #2, look for Individual Research Studies if you can’t find systematic reviews

  • CINAHL:  One easy thing, mark the “research” box on the main screen

                    Under “Additional Limits”, try:

                        Publication type:  Clinical trial

                        Clinical queries:  all 3 – specificity, sensitivity, min difference

                        Special Interest Category:  Evidence based practice

                       Journal subsets: Peer reviewed journals                   

  • MEDLINE:  One easy thing, select all 4 options from the “EBM Reviews” box on the main screen

                    Under “Additional Limits” try some of these:

Publication types:  Clinical trial, specific phases of trials, Controlled clinical trial, Comparative study, Evaluation studies, Meta-analysis, Multicenter study, Randomized controlled trial, Twin study, Validation studies

Clinical Queries:  Optimized                                       

Summary for CINAHL & MEDLINE:

 “Additional Limits” will be your main way of targeting the best evidence.  Try publication types or clinical queries.  There are also a few saved searches you can run and combine with your topic. 

 EBM Reviews - Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials limits your search to both published and unpublished randomized trials gathered in the preparation of Cochrane Reviews.



Scopus doesn't have as many limits as CINALH & MEDLINE.  you wil lhave to used keyword and subject terms. to limit to research studeis.  For quantitative rsearch try these: 

clinical trial
cohort study
systematic revew
meta analysis OR meta-analysis

 Step #3, to see ALL available Evidence-Based resources

  On the Health Sciences Library homepage, select All Resources (left hand column) and by subject, select:  Evidence based medicine.

 National Guidelines Clearinghouse:  many guidelines are evidence based; information on how the guideline was prepared is provided.  Under detailed search, scroll down to:  Methods used to assess/analyze formulate…or, mark specific guidelines to compare.