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Research Review: Research Review

Overview of effective approaches to research, as well as tips on citing and writing; distinguishing popular from scholarly literature, and primary versus secondary sources.

Research Process in a Nutshell

Step 1: Decide what you want to know!
• Background or general information on a broad topic?
• The answer to an evidence-based question? ("PICO")
• To review developments in an evolving subject area?
• To gather research-based data to develop protocols or define standards?

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with your topic by gathering background information.
Background information may benefit you by:
• Providing an overview and key vocabulary relating to the topic
• Alerting you to key issues and/or controversies
• Giving you with a sense of how your topic may relate to others
Good sources for background information include:
• Internet (MedlinePlus, Wikipedia, Organizational websites, etc.... but be sure to use the CRAAP Test!)
• Specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries
• Books – print and electronic (search eBooks or the Library Catalog)

Step 3: Develop your search strategy (and revise as necessary).
There are two types of topic searches:
Keyword Searches: the search looks at all the words in the:
Title, Author or Contributor, Subject, Abstract, Description, and Notes fields.  Make sure to think of synonyms and alternate spellings.
Subject Searches: Searches only “subjects” and extracts records with the exact match of wording.   The time spent  learning how to use controlled subject vocabulary is an investment that can save lots of time and frustration.

Step 4: Select appropriate databases or search tools.
The Library provides access to a multitude of databases. Recommended databases that include significant content relating to nursing and allied health include:
• EBSCOHost Databases (offers ability to create individual personal account)
   o CINAHL Plus (full text nursing & allied health journals plus some Medline references)
   o Academic Search Premier (multidisciplinary)
   o Medline (also available on Ovid and PubMed platforms)
• Ovid Nursing Full Text Plus (and Books@Ovid)  (offers the ability to create individual personal account).

Step 5: Jump in!
Remember, you cannot "break" a databases.  The best way to become a competent searher is to learn by doing, embrace trial and error, and practice, practice, practice!


For additional information, check out the Library's Nursing Resources and Databases webpages.

Health Sciences Library - Seraph Learning Commons - Stoudt Building - 850 Greenfield Road - Lancaster, PA 17603 - - (717 947-6022).