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Nursing Research Guide

A helpful place to find information on doing research in the Nursing field. This guide is intended to aid in literature searches and looking for other materials in the Nursing and Allied Health fields.

Use MeSH to Build a Better PubMed Query

PubMed Searches

Searching for evidence-based medicine/nursing articles using CLINICAL QUERIES in the PubMed database

Clinical Queries within PubMed is designed for people who are looking for those few good articles that might help someone make an informed decision. It is designed for the busy working professional in the medical field.  This is the database that is available in most hospitals and clinics for working professionals.

PubMed is on the open web for anyone to use it, however to get links to the maximum number of FREE full text articles you should access PubMed from the Otterbein library home page.

Choose Clinical Queries listed on the left side and drill down to SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS: In PubMed, Systematic Reviews cover a broad set of articles including:  meta-analysis, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus development conferences and guidelines.

Capitalize the Boolean operator’s AND/OR/NOT between your keywords

Cancer AND smoking 

Depression OR Sadness AND women OR female

Abdominal pain NOT ectopic

Hand washing AND infection control

Carbonated beverages AND childhood obesity

Autism AND Vaccines

For more specification in your search there are also FILTERS within the Clinical Queries:

  • THERAPY- will retrieve the studies that discuss the treatments of diseases
  • DIAGNOSIS- will find studies that discuss disease diagnosis
  • ETIOLOGY – will find studies that discuss the causation/harm in disease and diagnostics
  • PROGNOSIS – will find studies that discuss disease prognosis
  • CLINICAL PREDICTION GUIDES: will find studies that discuss methods for predicting the likelihood of disease presence or absence.
  • LIMIT your search in other ways too: by date range, by language, Just Nursing Journals, etc… 

Use SPECIFIC subject terms like Myocardial Infarction not “heart attack”

Spell terms out don’t use acronyms like “COPD”

Limit the years or the search will search the entire database back to 1950.

Building & Refining Your MEDLINE Searches

1.  Define your question
2. Select MeSH terms that best represent your concepts
3. Decide MeSH terms should include more specific terms
4. Consider text words or key words when a MeSH term does not exit for your concept
5. Select Subheadings, if appropriate, to further define your concept
6. Combine concepts with AND, OR, NOT
7. Refine your search by limiting to age, sex, human, etc.
8. Select appropriate research method terms to retrieve literature with clinical relevancy
9. Review Search Results
10. Examine MeSH terms of particularly relevant articles in your retrieval. Rerun search using those terms 
11. Use the "Related Citation" feature
12. Run Search in other databases, as appropriate.


PubMed comprises over 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. PubMed citations and abstracts include the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and preclinical sciences. PubMed also provides access to additional relevant Web sites and links to the other NCBI molecular biology resources.

PubMed is a free resource that is developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

PubMed Quick Start Guide: Tips on how to search for clinical articles, systematic reviews and more.