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NR 215: Articles

Google vs. CINAHL

When your instructor or supervisor says "search the nursing literature," you've only scratched the surface unless you search discipline-specific databases.

Google uses a search algorithm based on popularity and common search terms. It finds individual articles - it does not index ALL articles published in ALL journals. Nursing databases like CINAHL are comprehensive indexes of the Nursing literature.  This means they provide access to information about EVERY article in EVERY scholarly and professional Nursing journal. 

In other words, Google makes the easy part easier. But Nursing databases like CINAHL make the hard part easier!

Use CINAHL and follow the search tips provided in this guide to find the kinds of articles your instructor wants you to find.

Ursuline librarians are database navigation EXPERTS!  Schedule an appointment with Tabitha Barr for one-on-one research help!

CINAHL search tips

  • Use one or two key words for best results.
    • ALL of the content in CINAHL pertains to Nursing and healthcare topics. Keywords like "nursing" or "patient" may artificially limit your results.
    • If you include a search word, your result list will contain only articles where that word appears. Consider synonyms and related terms and try different keywords and combinations of keywords.
    • Search using keywords only at first, then add limiters to narrow your results.
  • Recommended limiters (click "show more" under the date range limiter bar to the left of your results list):
    • Published date: adjust range to limit to past 5 years
    • English language (checkbox)
    • Journal subset: Core Nursing
      • Select this limiter for results published only in scholarly (peer reviewed) nursing journals
      • Ursuline Library has online full-text access to almost all of the journals in CINAHL's Core Nursing collection
    • Peer Reviewed
    • Additional limiters to try:
      • Research article (checkbox): This limiter does not necessarily limit to research study articles, but it does eliminate content that is not research-oriented at all (newsletters, book reviews, etc.)
      • Any author is a nurse (checkbox): Try searching with and without this limiter. Sometimes it eliminates articles that really do have a nurse author!
      • Special interest: Limits your results to journals focused on specific specialty areas.