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State of Nursing Science
Last Updated: Feb 21, 2024 10:30 AM


State of Nursing Science

Contact or 716.829.5683 if you need additional help!

[This guide was originally created by Sharon Murphy, previous liaison to the UB School of Nursing]

A Quick Tour: NLM Resources for Nurses

You have access to many free resources! Take a spin and view this 4 minute video.

Finding Information - It's a Process!

  1. Define your topic
  2. Thoughtfully decide how you might go about your research - what system or systems work for you? How will you keep track? Matrix Method? EndNote? Do you want to create accounts so you can save your strategies and be alerted to new articles on your topic as the weeks go by?
  3. Identify what databases to search (at a minimum this will be MEDLINE (or PubMed/Medline) and CINAHL).
  4. Determine your keywords and subject terms for each concept from the database thesaurus. Consider limits. Boolean logic allows you to combine concepts.
  5. Make a first pass at searching. Browse what comes up and check the complete reference of promising items for other indexing terms to add or replace.
  6. Are themes appearing? Do you need to narrow or broaden things? Is a more specific research aspect developing?
  7. Make a second pass at searching.
  8. Try other pertinent databases. (PsycINFOWeb of ScienceCochrane Databases. Check our full biomedical list. Don’t forget about theses!
  9. Check the publications area of the Cochrane Review Groups (go to the specific group’s homepage, then select their reviews) and websites of organizations, specialty areas, governmental agencies, and known researchers, experts, and faculty
  10. Supplement your search by browsing in the search engines Google Scholar and MedNar. If you find a good item, look for the same item in PubMed and use the related citations feature to find more.
  11. Have a system and make time for checking the reference lists of pertinent articles - if you wait a bit of time to do this, you will “own the literature” enough to know what you already have, what seems to be seminal, and this is a reassuring place to be.
  12. Go forward in time by seeing who has cited an important article by using cited reference searching (see tips below).

Finding Subject Headings and Keywords

What’s the Difference between subject heading and keyword searching?
Subject & Keyword Searching - New York Academy of Medicine

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) Database

Within the database you are searching, look for the tab or link labeled “Thesaurus,” or “Subject Headings,” or “Descriptors,” or “Search Terms,” or “Terms.” In a database, find one good article, then look at the complete reference to see the indexing terms. Sometimes, looking at a few articles this way will reveal a pattern of terms.

You can also search for a keyword or two in the title only and check promising results

Search Strategy Builder - University of Arizona

Database truncation symbols to use when searching keywords:

  • EBSCO (CINAHL, PsycINFO) = *
  • PubMed = *
  • (Google employs synonyms automatically)

For example, In CINAHL, searching nurs* in the title will retrieve all articles that have nurse, nurses, nursing, or nursed in the title of articles. It will also give you nursery or nurseries!

Ancestry Searching & Citation-Index Searching

  • Use Cited Reference Search in Web of Science and CINAHL (found under More on opening search screen for latter)
  • Use the Cited By feature in Google Scholar
  • In databases, when you find a good item, look for the feature called Find Similar or Find Citing Articles.
  • Use the Review Article limiter and check the article references.

Evidence-Based Practice

Systematic Reviews Tools & Guides

Finding Systematic Reviews

Grey Literature

  • Grey Literature Report - find grey literature publications (non-conventional, fugitive, and sometimes ephemeral publications) in health services research and selected public health topics.
  • NIH RePORTER - Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects
  • GreyNet International
  • NTIS
  • Organization and agency websites
  • Consider contacting experts
  • Proceedings and conferences
  • Hand search journals that may not be indexed

Appraising the Evidence

Writing & APA



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Amy Lyons
Health Sciences Library
University at Buffalo
110 Abbott Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214
(716) 829-5719