An Online Tutorial
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Watch this tutorial if you:
Need to locate
Want to learn
how to better use
Advanced search is
the default homepage
for CINAHL. It gives
you plenty of
amazing ways of
limiting your search.
Sample article record:
Not every record will look the same, but this is a good example.
Links to access the full text of this article are here.
These links will change depending on who is making
the article available online. You could also see a logo
for the EJC:
Complete citation information
is given, though it is not
formatted with MLA or any
other citation style.
Let’s explore these options!
Check this to only
search for articles
that are available
full-text online at
the click of a Check this to retrieve
button. only peer reviewed
articles from your
Check this to only searches.
articles from your
These options are helpful if you
are looking for a specific article
(already have the citation)
Scroll through these search limit
options! They pertain specifically
to nursing information and can
help you focus your searches.
The Search Box
When you used the advanced search, the database
automatically checks this little box. If you try to search and
the box is still checked, the database is going to act like you
entered a search under CINAHL headings. This means that
your search will not bring up actual articles – it will try to
match your keywords to the keywords the database uses.
Most of the time, you will want to UNCHECK THIS BOX
Whether you‟re using the basic or advanced search, you can
create better searches for information and articles by using a
few simple tricks.
The rest of this tutorial is devoted to these search tips.
Remember that these are not limited to CINAHL – most
search engines or databases will allow you to use these nifty
little tricks, and they can save you substantial time!
So we recommend that you follow these steps when
searching CINAHL or in most other databases…
#1: Know what you want to find
Determine what types of
sources would be most helpful
Determine what specific
information would be
#2: Select good keywords
Pull the „key‟ words from your thesis or topic. These
are the ones that really capture the essence of your
Hands-on experience is the most crucially important aspect of nursing education.
“hands-on experience” “nursing education”
Sample thesis 2:
All levels of staff must cooperate for a health institution to run effectively.
“staff” “cooperation” “health institution”
Take your „key‟ words and come up with possible alternative keywords. Think of:
Broader subject terms
Ways in which your term could be narrowed.
in-hospital Teaching nursing
on-site experience Nursing classes
skill application BSN
rounds RN “nursing education”
practicum clinical hours nursing programs
administration efficiency communication
hospital teamwork “cooperation”
nurses sharing department
What if you have key PHRASES instead of key WORDS?
When you put a phrase into a database or search engine, normally it is searching
for those words anywhere in the article – the search engine does not realize that
those words are an item or that they are meant to be together.
For example, when I search for nursing student, I want articles about nursing
students – not articles about kindergarten students from the Pediatric Journal of
Nursing. The database doesn‟t understand that I meant nursing student to be one
search term, so it searches for the words separately.
The solution? Quotation marks!
Put quotation marks around your key phrases to tell the database that you
want it to search for the words as one entity. Remember, though, that you are
telling the database to search for what is in the quotation marks EXACTLY…
so if you put “nursing resources”, you’re not going to get back an article that
talks about a nursing resource or nurse resources.
This little trick works almost everywhere – even in Google!
#3: Make good search strings
Combine your keywords and make “search strings”
and = narrower search
with fewer results
= wider search with
or more results
So let‟s say you run a search for:
“community health nursing”
You would get back all that is in the
purple circle. If you don‟t like what
that search brought back, you have
some easy ways to refine the search to
All that has get back what you really wanted.
If you got back too many results, or if your results were not
specific enough --- add another keyword and connect your two
keywords with the word AND
If you search with AND, you‟re telling the search engine that there are two
criteria that must be met in a source. This means you‟ll get back fewer results
and all of the results should mention BOTH keywords. You‟ll only get back
the articles that fall in the middle of the venn diagram.
If you got back too few results, or if your subject is frequently
called by multiple names --- add another keyword and connect
your two keywords with the word OR
If you search with OR, you‟re telling the search engine that either one OR
the other term has to be present in a source. That gives the search more
possibilities and will bring back more results for you. You would get back
ALL of the venn diagram if you put in the connector OR.
Examples of good search strings:
“nursing education” or “nursing program”
This search will bring back articles that talk about EITHER nursing education OR nursing program or both.
“nursing education” and standards
This search will bring back articles that talk about nursing education AND standards.
JFK or “John F. Kennedy”
This search will bring back articles that talk about JFK OR John F. Kennedy.
“Butch Cassidy” and “Sundance Kid”
This search will bring back articles that talk about Butch Cassidy AND the Sundance Kid.
Try coming up with some search strings on your own! Run them
through a quick google or database search – first as a single keyword and
then as a string. You‟ll see the difference in results!
You successfully finished the library tutorial
CINAHL: Effective Searching
If you have any questions about this tutorial,
please get in touch with Pilgrim Library or
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