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The purpose of this guide is to highlight resources in Nursing, and to provide research guidance and tips.

Searching Like a Pro

Once you have the main concepts, you can then start to put together a search strategy with AND/OR/NOT. For more information about using AND/OR/NOT see the Library Research Process Guide or see below.

Table on how to use AND OR NOT when searching a database. Strategic searching. Searching (Dog OR Canine) would get you more, relevant results. Different authors may refer to dogs as canines in their article or specifically the breed German Shepard. You want to make sure you get all the possible relevant articles.

AND ties the concepts together that will decrease the number of results, but makes the results more relevant.


A short search strategy may look like this: Therapy animal AND (dog OR canine OR German Shepard) AND (elderly OR senior citizen OR 65+)

Building an In-depth Search: Nursing

At some point, you will be asked to write on or explore a topic that is more in-depth; which will require a more in-depth search. This can be a big task and where do you begin?

  1. I always start with the same table as seen below to keep my thoughts organized. To begin, I write my original concepts on the left side.
  2. Next, I see if the database I am using has a thesaurus/subject headings and if there is one that matches my original concept. (MeSH is found in PubMed). I do this to understand how my term will be interpreted and if I agree. These subject headings/MeSH terms are official cateogories that are used to organize the articles in the database.
  3. The last column is designed for words that are not included in the designated subject heading terminology or other synonyms in which my concept could be referred to. You may want to include other words (synonyms) or using the word OR in your search to ensure you are getting all the relevant material.

image of a table with 3 columns (original concepts, Mesh/subject heading, and synonyms).

Taking your topic to a search - This document provides a template on how to format your research question as well as how to break down your main concepts into a table like the one seen above. This method will help you to identify the best words to search to find relevant articles.