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Nursing Portal

Information sources and support for nurses

General Information

We recommend using Medline, Emcare or Embase to get started. These are subscription databases available via the library.

To quickly find original research literature....

  1.  go to a library database ... popular databases
  2.  select 'Basic Search'
  3.  enter terms that describe what you are looking for
    • just use main words, leave out 'and', 'or', etc
    • eg nurses hand hygiene adherence
  4. the database will interpret your search and present results by relevance.
  5. use filters to restrict by year, subject, type of article,etc.

This may be adequate for clinical or study needs but the results depends on the platform's search algorithm.

However if you are doing a more substantial project, original research or planning to publish your work you should do a structured search. A structured search allows you to control the search parameters and produce a reproducible and verifiable search strategy. This is essential for producing a literature or systematic review.


Advanced searching tips

Advanced searching is not intuitive and requires some learning. However it is the best way to find relevant original research.

  • for a quick 'how to' on structured searches see the 8 step quick search tab.
  • make use of database functions such as subject headings and filters to refine your results
  • combine subject headings and keywords for the most up to date results
  • you will need a clear question - see Forming a question
  • think about inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • for more information see - Guide to literature searching

Don't freak out !!! It can take a number of attempts to find the right terminology to find the information you want.