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NRS420 Research Skills Guide: Journal Databases

Which Databases should I choose?

For Assessment 1, you are asked to provide an overview of the databases you have consulted in the methods section.

There are a couple of places you can look for good Nursing databases:

Of course you don't have to use every database for every assignment - there are so many here that would take forever.  It is suggested you concentrate on one or two databases which index from a range of excellent journals in the field and not just restrict yourself to the journals of a particular publisher. Highly recommended are Cinahl Plus with Full Text and the Proquest Nursing and Allied Health Database.

Don't forget, you can also use Primo Search and Google Scholar to locate journal articles, but the search engines for these databases are not as precise and the results will not be as relevant and possibly not as high quality as you will retrieve from a specialised nursing database.

Journal Database Search Strategies

When you go into a journal database you will notice that many of them feature multiple search boxes that are stacked one above the other in rows.

While they may look intimidating, they can make your search process easier if you think of each row as a train of thought. For example, if you were searching for an article about the abuse of children in foster care, you could use a new row for each element of your topic. In this case you might search for:

1st search row: "foster care"
2nd search row: child* OR youth
3rd search row: abuse

You'll notice we have used some search tips in the search above. Check out the FIND page for a listing of these tips. 

You can also choose to display the search history and conduct each of these searches separately and then combine them in different ways.

As a postgraduate student it would benefit you to use subject headings as well as keywords and phrases. CINAHL and MEDLINE both have excellent capabilities in this way and with a little practice your results will be exhaustive as well as highly relevant. 

Tip: If you want to learn more about how to maximise your search using search strategies, contact your embedded Librarian who can assist you in creating an effective search strategy.

Understanding Journal Databases

Full Text

Sometimes you will read that a database is 'full text', or that an article can be found in 'full text'. 'Full text' means that the entire document is available online. When a database carries an article in full text there will be a hyperlink to view it as either a PDF or html document. Not all journal databases contain full text.

If an article is not available in full text you may be able to locate it in another database. Clicking on the Find itbutton will allow you to check if the article is available elsewhere.