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NRS328 Research Skills Guide: CINAHL - Other Features


You will often find that your search – even as a subject search – gets way too many results. What else can we do to make a search more specific?

 Most databases allow you to limit your search by various criteria. You can usually apply these limiters either at the time the search is run, or after you have got your results.


Some limiters are available in most online databases. For example:

  • Articles with full-text
  • Date of publication

Some limiters are available in some databases but not others. For example:

  • Peer-reviewed [If you don’t know what “peer-reviewed” means, please see the page in this guide on Peer Review]
  • English language
  • Human

Some limiters are specific to a database, because they relate to the particular nature of the content of that database.

  • For example, in CINAHL, you can limit your search to particular types of articles. These article types relate specifically to health/medical journal articles. CINAHL includes the following important limiters:


Limiter Description How to apply
Research article
  • “When applied, your search is limited to articles that are about a research study or examination of subject matter that uses investigational or experimental techniques. A research study includes data collection, subject selection, methodology, discussion of results, and application, if any.”
  • [from ]
Tick box
Randomised controlled trial Tick box OR Select from Publication Type
Systematic review Select from Publication Type
Meta-analysis Select from Publication Type


The important thing is that you can use these limiters to find articles of a particular type. Read on ...



In EBSCOhost databases, of which CINAHL is one, you can choose to limit a search either at the time the search is run, or after you get the results.

The best way to limit a search is to use the Advanced Search screen. Every time you click on the Advanced Search link, you will see all the limiters. If you have already run a search, the search terms will still appear in the search boxes, and you can click on Search to apply your limiters to that search. Or you can run a whole new search and apply the limiters to the new search.

Here's the Advanced Screen where no search has been run. This is the screen you see when you log in to CINAHL. Here we can see the top part of the Limiters panel. The layout of the Limiters panel might vary according to the browser you are using:

There are limiters for all sorts of things. You can activate them either by

  • ticking a box (eg Research Article; Randomized Controlled Trials); OR
  • entering data (eg Date of Publication); OR
  • choosing from a drop-down menu (eg Publication Type > Systematic Review; Publication Type > Meta-analysis).

 Here’s the Limiters screen, with a Publication Type of Systematic Review selected:

In the Publication Type drop-down, there are no fewer than 83 options! – everything from Anecdote to Website!

Note: After you have selected a limiter (or limiters), you need to click on the Search button to run the new search.

Reminder: whenever you click on the Advanced Search link, below the 3 search boxes, you will see all the limiters. But note that every time you do this, any limiters that you have previously selected will be cleared. On the other hand, once you have selected a limiter, it will keep affecting your searches until you click on Advanced Search again!


In all EBSCOhost databases, the database retains your searches for as long as you remain logged in to EBSCOhost.
You can view these searches by clicking on the Search History link, which is below the 3 search boxes. This link is a hide/display toggle which alternately hides and displays your previous searches:

There are a number of things you can do from your Search History screen:

  • You can return to the results of a previous search, by clicking on the View Results link in the Actions column.
  • You can delete searches.
  • You can combine searches – with AND or OR – after they have been run.
  • You can save a search, and/or set it up as an Alert, but to do this you need to have set up a Personal Folder (also known as a Personal Account) in EBSCOhost. For information on how to set up a Personal Folder/Account, see the box below on Creating a Personal Folder in EBSCOhost.


When you have a results list in an EBSCOhost database, you have the option to add records to a folder. To do this, you need to click on the Folder icon at the right of the brief record :

Folder icon in EBSCOhost brief record

After you have clicked on the folder icon, the screen changes to show a different icon :

EBSCO icon to remove an item from the folder

You can also add an item to the folder from its full record :

Add to folder icon in EBSCO

And how do you open the temporary folder? Just click on the Folder link in the top blue bar on the EBSCOhost screen.

BUT ... If you do not have, or have not signed into, a personal account, your saved records will be kept in the folder only for as long as you remain logged in to EBSCOhost. When you log out, your saved records will be cleared. So, READ ON ...

Creating a personal folder in EBSCOhost

If you wish to:

  • save records more permanently,
  • save searches,
  • set up Search Alerts ...

... you need to create a personal folder (account). Here’s how ...

  1. t top right of screen, click on Sign in.
  2. Beneath the login and password boxes, click on the link for Create a new Account.
  3. Follow the instructions and prompts to set up your new Account.
  4. Make a note of your login and password for future use!

You can use your personal account to:

  • Save records of articles, until you choose to delete them
  • Save searches, until you choose to delete them
  • Set up search alerts
  • Set up journal alerts
  • [And, also, download an eBook from the EBSCOhost eBooks collection].

For more information on setting up and using a personal account, see EBSCOhost Help, or contact the Library.

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