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Nursing - Graduate Students: Search Tips

Library of the Health Sciences

Tracking Your Searches

It is always a good idea to try to save your search strategies, as well as any interesting articles that you might find with those search strategies. This might seem like a lot of extra work at first, but it will actually streamline your work processes if you aren't duplicating searches needlessly.  In addition, the theory of evidence based practice puts great importance in someone else being able to replicate your literature search.

The easiest way to track both searches, as well as articles, is to do so within the database itself.  Here are some examples:

CINAHL: create a personalized My EBSCOhost account. This allows you to create folders where you can save articles to refer to later.

PubMed: create a personalized MyNCBI account. Refer to the MyNCBI page of this guide for more information.

Advanced Searching with Subject Headings

Having trouble finding exactly what you need in one of the library databases??

One strategy that can make your research run more smoothly is the use of subject headings, such as MeSH terms when searching in PubMed.  Subject headings are what we call "controlled vocabulary."  In other words, they are terminology that are used to identify all the articles on a given topic.  For example, you could do one search for articles with the subject heading "Carbonated Beverages," instead of searching for all variations of the word "pop" (i.e. "soda," "coke," "soft drink").

When choosing your subject headings, remember this: "Search for Specificity."  Searching by broad, general concepts will retrieve many results, but you'll have to wade through lots of irrelevant articles. I suggest starting with "narrower" (i.e. more specific) terminology to retrieve fewer, but more relevant, results.  You can always expand your search later if you don't find what you need.  For example, a search for "Gastronintestinal Diseases" will retrieve over 600,000 citations, but a search for "Stomach Ulcer" will retrieve less than 23,000.  You should then add a second term to narrow your search even further.

Feel free to contact me or the library reference desk if you would like help finding subject headings for your research topic.  After all, that's why we're here!  See the contact information to the right.


Using Scopus to Track an Author's Publications

Sometimes a primary investigator becomes interested in an area of research and continues to research (and publish on) that topic.  The library subscribes to a database called Scopus that can assist you in tracking an author's publications.  You can also use it to discover the researcher's coauthors and who has cited the researcher's works. 


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