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Nursing Research Starter Kit: Using Databases

Search Strategies

Use Keywords


Keywords help focus your search on what you’re looking for. The keywords you select should be the main ideas in your research topic/hypothesis. 


Instead of this phrasing: "Does handwashing among healthcare workers reduce hospital-acquired infection?”


Try:  handwashing AND hospital-acquired infection

Boolean Operators


There are three Boolean operators – AND, OR and NOT.




Helps narrow your search.

Take the example from the previous tab:

     handwashing AND hospital-acquired infection

We tell the search to look for all articles that contain both of these terms “handwashing” AND “hospital-acquired infection”.


Example search in CINAHL. In first search box, the term handwashing has been entered. AND has been selected from the drop down menu and in the second search box, hospital acquired infection has been typed in. Suggestions for alternative terms are also present underneath the second search box.



Helps broaden your search. We tell the search that we will accept both possibilities in our search results. Oftentimes, synonyms are linked using OR. 

Example: hospital-acquired infection OR cross infection 



Can help make your search more precise. If a result that is different than what you intended keeps dominating your search results, you can use NOT to remove it.

Example: If you were interested if handwashing helps prevents cross infections and are not interested in the impact of masks

handwashing AND (cross infections or hospital-acquired infections) NOT masks



There are options to limit your results on the results page. You can select limiters like: 

  • Full Text
  • Type of information source (Academic Journals, eBooks, etc.)
  • A specific journal
  • Subject 
  • Location
  • Publication date 
  • Peer Reviewed/Refereed/Scholarly Journals*


*When searching for journal articles, your sources are most likely required to be scholarly/peer reviewed/refereed. Dissertations can be helpful/useful sources but they are not considered to be peer-reviewed. 



Try entering your search terms in quotations marks or parentheses. 


Quotation Marks

Can help keep your search terms together.  

So instead of: cross infection

Try: "cross infection"



Can be useful if your keyword has different terms that can be used to refer to it. Putting these terms in parentheses tells the search to look for all of these terms. This strategy can help you get more relevant results. 

Example: ("hospital-acquired infection" OR "cross infection")

Accessing Articles

Once you have found an article, you will probably want to read it.  To access the article, you will look for symbols like these: 

Icon for HTML Full Text

Icon and PDF Full Text

Icon and VSU Full Text

Click on the respective symbol to access the article. 

As a rule of thumb, avoid HTML Full Text when possible as it will resemble a web page and will not contain page numbers, making citing more difficult. PDF Full Text links you to a PDF copy of the article that you can then e-mail to yourself or download. If you see the VSU Full Text button, this indicates that there is an extra step to access the article. The article may be found in another database or resource or it might available through an Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Managing Search Results in EBSCOhost

The EBSCOhost databases have several features to help manage your research results. 



Create a free account in EBSCOhost to save item records or searches. 

  • Go into any EBSCOhost database

  • Click on Sign In

  • Click on Create a new Account

  • Fill in the information

    • You do not have to use your BlazeVIEW username or password, this is an entirely separate system
    • Your password must be "strong" or the system will not accept it
  • Once you are logged into an EBSCOhost database, you will see a small yellow icon that reads "My"

Log in to EBSCOhost is represented by a yellow My appearing above the logo in the top left.


Save item records in your folder.

  • When you find a book record, article record, etc. that you want to keep...

  • Click on the blue folder icon to add it to your folder

    • The blue folder icon is available on the search results page and in the item's record

To add results to your MyEBSCO host folder, click on the folder icon next to the result. If the folder icon changes to yellow, it has been added. If it is blue, click on the folder icon to add it to your folder.

Warning! If you add a record to your folder but you are not logged in, it will disappear when you close the browser. Be sure you are logged in!