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NUR152: Choosing library databases for Nursing Research

This guide is an overview of research databases in the Scottsdale Community College Library, and how to choose which one(s) are best for the topic you are researching.

Introduction

Your team will be conducting research as it relates to a topic selected from the Healthy People 2020 initiative.  While all of your research will relate to nursing, Healthy People 2020 covers an array of health issues from family planning and nutrition to specific diseases such as diabetes and cancer.  The groups targeted also vary in terms of age and gender. Some topics specifically address infants or children or adolescents. Others focus on health issues of older adults. These parameters may also come into play as sub-topics within a larger category, such as the reproductive effects of tobacco use on women. The subject or sub-topic you and your group are researching will help guide your selection of which databases to utilize in your research. This guide endeavors to help you make those selections.

The complete list of Healthy People 2020 topics can be found here.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Database

When choosing a database, it helps to know something about it.  These questions may assist you:

1. What subject areas does it cover?

2. What's the context for the information you're seeking?  As nursing students, you are looking for professional, scholarly literature that's peer reviewed and evidence based. Many databases cover health related topics, but from a consumer or lay person's point of view.

3. What date range does it cover?  Currency is critical in the nursing and medical professions. Healthy People 2020 lists resources, but many are several years old.  Part of your task is to seek out current best practice.

4.  What types of material does it cover? With the exception of Health Source: Consumer Edition, the databases covered in this research guide focus on scholarly content. But as you've learned from the module. not every article in a scholarly peer reviewed journal is researched based. You will also find editorials, commentary, book reviews, brief announcments, etc. 

Many databases, especially those which aggregate results from many sources such as OneSearch, also include the following types of information:

  • magazine or newspaper articles
  • books
  • book chapters
  • dissertations
  • conference papers
  • statistics, charts, and graphs
  • images, audio and/or video
  • Evidence based care sheets (CINAHL)

You also need to be aware that not every article in a database will link to the full text of the article.  Some articles are merely indexed and full content will have to be locate elsewhere.

This is why it's important for you as a researcher to learn to use the filters or limits that are available in databases to narrow your search to the specific type of information you want to use.