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NUR 361 - Evidence-Based Practice

A research guide for students in the NUR 361 online class

Essential Databases

Start your search for articles in these Core Nursing Research Databases.
The first 2 databases (CINAHL and MEDLINE) can be searched simultaneously, by
clicking on the "Choose Databases" link at the top of the CINAHL database).

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More Databases:

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.

Types of Research Studies

As you read and evaluate articles, look at the methods or methodology to determine the type of research conducted:

 

Research study types are not always obvious. Researchers may use elements of more than one design to achieve their purpose. Read carefully and use your best judgement to identify the overall category or type of a particular study's methodology.

Search Tips

Productive and effective searching:

  • Start with one or two keywords 
    • Add terms with AND to narrow results (hypertension AND exercise)
    • If needed, combine synonyms with OR to include related terms (cardiac or heart)
  • 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 date range and English language
    • Other limiters to try:
      • Peer Reviewed (articles must be approved by other scholars before publication)
      • Journal Subset: Core Nursing (in CINAHL, this limits results to nursing journals only)
      • Other database-specific limit options (any author is a nurse, randomized controlled trial, etc.)
Can't access the article or book you need? Use our Inter-library loan (ILL) service!