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HSC 305: Culture and Health Care

Healthy Research Habits

Essential Databases

Many of these databases can be searched simultaneously. Start in CINAHL and click Choose Databases above the search boxes to make your selections.


More Databases:

Search Tips

Productive and effective searching:

  • Start with one or two keywords (use database suggestions if they look good) 
    • Combine synonyms with OR to include related terms (palliative care OR hospice OR end of life care)
    • Add terms with AND to narrow results (palliative care AND occupational therapy)
  • Review results to brainstorm additional or alternate keyword options
  • Try multiple searches with different keywords and explore more than one database
  • Apply limiters thoughtfully
    • After seeing how productive your keywords are, limit by Peer Reviewed and English language
    • Other limiters to try:
      • date range
      • full text
Can't access the article you need? Use our Inter-library loan (ILL) service!

Primary Sources

A primary research article reports on a study conducted by the authors. This type of article:
  • Asks a research question or states a hypothesis
  • Identifies a research population
  • Describes a specific research method
  • Tests or measures something
  • Includes a section called "method" or "methodology." 
  • Includes a section called "results."

Words to look for as clues include: analysis, study, investigation, examination, experiment, numbers of people or objects analyzed, control group, or survey.

To contrast, the following are NOT primary research articles (they are secondary sources):
  • Literature reviews*
  • Meta-Analyses/Review articles* (arrive at conclusions based on research from many other studies)
  • Editorials
  • Letters
  • Chapters in books
  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Speeches and interviews

* Literature reviews and meta-analyses also describe the authors' research method/methodology, focusing on their database search strategy and development of criteria for including or excluding individual study results. These articles are still secondary sources because they synthesize the findings of multiple research studies; the authors are not the primary researchers.