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Nursing: A Guide to Doing Research in the HSU Library

Before beginning your research project, it is recommended that you think about how comprehensive your research must be, how current your sources of information need to be, and your intended audience's level of expertise. Then define your research topic as specifically as possible and don't be afraid to refine your topic as you learn more about it. Suggested guidelines for doing library research follow and may be adapted to fit your needs.

Table of ContentsTable of Contents

How do I find background information on my topic?
How do I find books on my topic?
How do I find articles on my topic?
Another way to research -- via citations!
Keeping Current
Does the Library have the item I need?
If the Library doesn't have the item, where can I get it?
What about resources on the Internet/Web?
Critically evaluate the information you find

How do I find background information on my topic?

Reference Materials -- can provide you with background information, major theories or researchers, and definitions of key terms. Print and selected electronic reference materials are listed in the HSU Library Catalog and may be located by adding terms such as encyclopedia?, director?, dictionar?, etc. to your search. You can also search for electronic and print reference materials by choosing Reference Collection (including Eref) from the pull-down "Limit To:"menu.

Examples of reference materials relevant to nursing appear below. Print books shelved in the reference collection have ref before the call number. Those books without ref in the call number are in the main book stacks on the third floor.


Guides to the Literature and Research Methods:

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Catalyst, the Library's CatalogHow do I find out if the Library has books on my topic?

The HSU Library Catalog is the guide to books, periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers), videos, compact discs, DVDs, etc. in the HSU Library. Most older government documents (United States and California) are not included in the Library Catalog.   Beginning in March 1998, U.S. government documents are in the Library Catalog as are California state documents published after mid-1999. For information on how to search the HSU Library Catalog, see WebVoyage Help Contents. The default screen is for the Basic Search. You may conduct more complex searches using the Advanced Search option.

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Indexes and AbstractsHow do I find articles in journals on my topic?


Articles in journals may be found by using Databases that index the literature related to nursing and health. Most of these databases (or indexes) also provide summaries (abstracts) of the articles as well as links to the full text of the article. For this reason, databases may also be referred to as Indexes/Abstracts.

The databases most appropriate for research in nursing, health and medicine may be found at Articles and Databases: Nursing & Health.

In addition to journal articles, indexes/abstracts may also index articles/reports published in conference proceedings, government documents, technical reports, dissertations, and other sources. Indexes/abstracts vary in scope, depth and breadth of subject coverage. The Research Roadmap: Searching online tutorial and the Search Strategy Worksheet give a step-by-step description of how to develop your search. There are also search strategy guides tailored to science: Identifying Concepts and Generating Search Terms and AND, OR, NOT (Boolean Operators).

NOTE: Most electronic indexes/abstracts/databases are available only to HSU faculty, students and staff.  You will need to identify yourself in order to search them.  For more information, watch our captioned video: Access the Library Databases from Off-Campus.

In addition to the databases listed on Articles and Databases: Nursing & Health, there is a print index in our reference collection which is good for retrospective searching:

Nursing Studies Index (ref RT 1 Y35), prepared by Yale University School of Nursing, is an annotated guide to analytical, historical, and biographical aspects of nursing literature.  It covers 1900-59 so is especially useful for retrospective searching.  Only English language publications are indexed.

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Another way to do research -- Citation Searching!!!

If you know of a particularly relevant or "classic" article on your topic, you may use the Cited References feature of CINAHL Plus with Full Text to locate more recent articles that cite or acknowledge that relevant article. The principle here is that the citing article is on a subject closely related to that of the earlier article. To use this feature, simply click on the Cited References link under the More tab on the toolbar at the top of the CINAHL Plus with Full Text search screen and enter the cited author, etc., into the search form.

If you do not find enough cited references in CINAHL Plus with Full Text, another good way to search citations is to use Google Scholar. The Advanced Scholar Search option is the best way to search for articles which cite a known article. Please see our captioned video tutorial, Advanced Research Skills: Citation Searching, for more information. More ways to search citations may also be found in the Citation Searching section of Searching the Scientific Literature.

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Keeping Current

Listed below are several databases that will send you the table of contents when a new issue of a key journal is available.  Some of these databases will also run your stored search strategy periodically and send you any new references that result from the search.

CINAHL Plus with Full Text - You may save your search and set up search alerts to be run automatically. This may be done from the Search Results list by clicking on the Alert/Save/Share link. You must have a My EBSCOhost account to get your results via email.

ScienceDirect - Elsevier's full text database of over 1,200 Elsevier Science and Academic Press journals has three types of alerts: (1) Search Alerts of articles added that match a saved search strategy;   (2) New Issue Alerts which send tables of contents as issues are published; and (3) Topic Alerts which are predefined searches on a specific topic, such as inorganic chemistry. Topic alerts notify you by email when new documents on a particular topic are available.

SpringerLink - SpringerLink, which has more than 2,200 online journals published by Springer and Kluwer, from 1997 forward, will notify you of the latest research developments in your field of interest. You can sign up for table of contents alerts to keep up in your field of interest.

Wiley Online Library - Wiley-Blackwell's full text database of over 1500 journals has a Alerts service which sends tables of contents as soon as issues are published. You may also save a search and have any new content matching your search criteria sent to you via email. Individual users may register to create personal home pages incorporating data files, article links, and stored searches.

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How do I find out if the Library has the item I need?

Once you have a list of citations or references on the topic you are researching, you must determine if HSU Library has the article, book, report or document cited. While you are searching a database, click on the  icon next to each citation and a link to full text availability of that article or book will appear.

If there is no  icon, see if there is another link to full text.  If not, check the HSU Library Catalog if the reference is to a book, report, dissertation, or other non-serial publication. If the reference is to an article in a journal, annual review or other serially published title, the best way to determine if it is available is to use the Journal and Newspaper Finder, a searchable guide to the 15,000 journals, magazines, newspapers and other serials accessible online (fulltext) as well as to the print periodicals  & serials in HSU Library. The Journal and Newspaper Finder has been enhanced with common periodical abbreviations. Using the contains (or keyword) search option you can search an abbreviation, e.g., jognn, and retrieve Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing.

If you have a full reference to an article that includes at least the year, volume, issue and starting pages of your article, you may use the Citation Linker to locate it if the Journal and Newspaper Finder indicates that the full text of the journal is available in electronic format for the date(s) of interest.

Indexes/Abstracts/Databases often use abbreviations in their citations which you may need to decipher. There are several online resources where you can find the full title for an abbreviated one. Use NCBI Journal Browser to search for abbreviations found in Medline. You may also use All That JAS: Journal Abbreviation Sources and other resources listed on Journal Title Abbreviations to locate abbreviations and what the full titles are. Do not guess at what abbreviations mean! If you still cannot find the full title for a journal, please ask a librarian for assistance.

Remember that most government documents prior to 1998 are not listed in the HSU Library Catalog. If you wish to find a government document, consult the guides: How to Find Federal Documents in the HSU Library and How to Find California Documents in the HSU Library. You may also ask a reference librarian for assistance at the Reference/Information Desk on the first floor (hours) or in the Humboldt Room, room 308 (hours).

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What if the Library doesn't have the item I need?

If the Library does not have the book, report, document, article, etc. which you need, you may request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). See Interlibrary Loan Policies & Guidelines and/or watch our captioned video Using Interlibrary Loan for more information.  Requests may be placed by logging on to the Interlibrary Loan System. There are also links to the ILL System from Image of SFX button pages when the HSU Library doesn't have full text. This process can take as long as TWO WEEKS for books and ONE WEEK for articles so it is a good idea to begin your research early.

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What about resources available on the Internet or Web?

There are many resources of  nursing and medical information available on the Internet and World Wide Web. A list of selected Nursing Resources on the Web highlights some important sites.

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A final caveat: Critically evaluate the information you find!

You must critically evaluate the resources found online (as well as in the Library) by asking yourself the following questions:

Be especially careful when surfing the Web!!  It is extremely important to critically evaluate all health-related information you find on the Web. The following references will help you decide what to look for (and look out for) when surfing:

Evaluating Information Found on the Internet
From Johns Hopkins University.
Evaluating Information: Applying the CRAAP Test
A list of questions from the Meriam Library at CSU Chico to ask yourself in order to determine the reliability of the information you find.
Evaluation of Medical Information
A nice summary, including a review of the scientific method, from Ted Humphry, MD, a local pediatrician.
Health On the Net Code of Conduct (HONcode)
According to the introduction, "The Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONcode) for medical and health Web sites addresses one of Internet's main healthcare issues: the reliability and credibility of information."  It has a questionnaire you can answer to help you decide how reliable and accurate a web site is.
Published criteria for evaluating health related web sites: review
This article from the March 6, 1999 issue of BMJ( British Medical Journal ) reviews published criteria for specifically evaluating health related information on the world wide web, and identifies areas of consensus.
Reliability of Health Information for the Public on the World Wide Web: Systematic Survey of  Advice on Managing Fever in Children at Home
An excellent article published in BMJ( British Medical Journal ) on June 28, 1997. It emphasizes the need for critical evaluation of medical information on the web and shows just how much inaccurate information is out there.
Research Roadmap: Evaluating
This section of the Research Roadmap online workshop from HSU Library offers criteria for evaluating your research strategies and for evaluating the credibility and usefulness of information sources.
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Evaluating Web Resources
Developed by Sharon Chadwick, HSU Librarian, this site has a Checklist in addition to a Powerpoint presentation.
Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources - from UCLA Library.

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