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Nursing Research

General Search Features & Tips

CINAHL  &   MEDLINE              

Basic search tips:

  • Check Full-Text box
  • Check Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) box
  • Keep phrases together with quotes
  • Limit by date/date range
  • Limit by language
  • Use Cite feature to generate citations

It is possible to search multiple EBSCO databases like CINAHL and MEDLINE together. Click on the Choose Databases link (above the search box) to select other databases to search.


CINAHL Advanced Search also provides:

  • Check boxes for 'First Author is a Nurse' and 'Any Author is a Nurse' for research by nurses
  • Check boxes for Meta-Synthesis and Randomized Control Trial research studies
  • Clinical Queries selections (not necessarily research) for
    • Therapy
    • Prognosis
    • Review (literature review articles)
    • Qualitative
    • Causation
      --Choose "High Sensitivity" for a broad search, "High Specificity" for a narrow, precise search, and "Best Balance" for something in between
  • Subject limits
    • Journal Subset - Choose from blind peer reviewed, behavioral sciences, nursing, etc.
    • Special Interest - Limit to advanced nursing practice, case management, critical care, etc.
  • Population related:
    • Check boxes for Human (as opposed to animal studies), PregnancyIn- and Out-patient
    • Menus for
      • Male/Female (inclusive, i.e. definitely includes males or females, not necessarily only males or females)
      • Age Groups
  • Research related Publication Types such as:
    • Clinical Trial
    • Meta Analysis
    • Meta Synthesis 
    • Questionnaire/Scale
    • Randomized Controlled Trial (same as the check box)
    • Research (same as the check box)

Note: Don't use all of these at once!


Using Subject Headings

The CINAHL® Subject Headings is a controlled vocabulary collection that assists in more effectively searching the database. Each article in the database is associated with a set of subject terms that are assigned to describe the content of the article. Most article have both major and minor subject headings. 

It is possible to search a subject heading using the selected subject heading field code (in drop-down menu next to search box).



  • MW – Searches for a word in the subject heading, including subheadings, retrieves citations indexed under major or minor. (Recommended)

  • MH - Search the exact subject heading; searches both major and minor headings

  • MM - Searches the exact subject heading; searches just for major headings


Elsevier ScienceDirect 

Can be used to find both research articles and literature reviews.

-- Use the Advanced Search function.

-- Limit by article type including Review and Research articles 

-- Limit by publication date or date range (e.g. 2017 or 2015-2020)

--Can also limit by Subject Area (e.g. Nursing and Health Professions)



Can be used to find research articles and literature reviews.

-- Limit to Free Full-Text

-- Limit to article type including Review, Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, Randomized Controlled Trial and others

-- Limit by Date or Date Range

--Has Cite and Permalink features