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Adult Nursing


On this page we'll attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to research and referencing for your assignment on ADN602. If you can't find the answer you need here or have tried following the advice and are still having issues, then please speak to your supervisor in the first instance.

How do I select my keywords?

You should already have your research question (or be working on it). Use this as the starting point. Break it down into the areas you need information on. For each of these areas consider not only the terms you are using but what alternative terms other authors may use to describe the same information areas.

Be sure to include the wider areas within which your information sits and also the narrower terms for particular aspect within your information area.

Using a Thesaurus can help identify synonyms. MeSH Terms ( can also be used to identify what are the preferred medical terms and those related to them. Similarly CINAHL Subject Headings is available as a link in the top menu bar on CINAHL to help identify related terms.

What databases should I search?

The Databases tab of this LibGuide will give you a list of subject-specific, academic databases that you can choose to search across, familiarise yourself with these. Selecting the right tools can make your searches more effective and efficient. Google and even Google Scholar are not useful tools for this project and you should not be using them to identify research articles.

My search is returning too many/too few/irrelevant results?

The most frequent cause of getting too many or too few results is not setting up your search string correctly. Pay extra attention to how you are using brackets, search connectors and speech marks. Here's a reminder of how they work:

  • Search connectors: AND will refine your search (use this to connect each information area). OR will expand your search (use this to present your alternative terms within each area). NOT will exclude unrelated terms (be careful you don't take out articles that will be useful)
  • Brackets: Use brackets to group together the alternative terms for each information area.
  • Phrases: Use speech marks around search terms which have more than one word. This will increase the specificity of your search and only return results which contain all words within the speech marks, together, in that order

An example search string using these techniques may look like:

(nurse OR nursing OR "healthcare professional") AND (stress OR wellbeing OR "psychological distress" OR "mental health) AND (A&E OR "accident and emergency" OR "trauma department")

Double check that every opening bracket has a matching closing bracket. Similarly make sure that every opening speech mark has a matching closing speech mark at the end of the phrase. Also check for any accidental additional brackets or speech marks. Small things like this can have a huge impact on how effective your search is.

What is an Audit Trail?

An Audit Trail is a document you use to track your search activity and will help feed into the start of the PRISMA process.

Simply create an Excel spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Date of search - you may record the same search on different dates to see if additional materials have become available
  • Database/eResource used - you should be searching across 4 or 5 different databases
  • Search string - copy the full search string entered including connectors, brackets and punctuation
  • Limiters applied - record any limiters ticked such as publication date, peer reviewed etc.
  • Number of records retrieved - the total number of results returned from the combination of the database, search string and limiters

A copy of your Audit Trail should go in the appendix of your assignment

What is PRISMA?


PRISMA is a standard form used in health research to record the process of selecting which articles and research papers will be included in your systematic review. A copy of your PRISMA workflow should be included in your appendix for this assignment.

The number of records identified through database searching will be found be adding together the number of results returned for each of your searches. You can then use a tool like RefWorks to remove duplicates and work out the number taken through to screening.

Screening is the process of looking at article titles and abstracts and determining whether the paper is likely to meet your information need. Always make sure to keep a list of the reasons for rejecting those articles you don't take forward

Eligibility is the stage where you need to access the full text of all the articles left and read through them to select which you want to include in your study. Again, record the reasons for rejecting the ones you don't include.

I can't find articles on my specific research area?

It may be that the research area you have chosen is new or niche and hasn't had much or anything written about it before. Whilst this may make things difficult for identifying articles it does mean you have identified a gap in the literature and this will be useful for the next stage of the assignment in preparing a research proposal.

If you are struggling to find articles specific to your research area then consider searching a little more widely. You can use articles which are related to your area, even if they are not on the exact topic you are discussing. You can then discuss how this related research might be applied to your particular area of interest.

How do I add citations to RefWorks from databases?

All of our databases will have some way for you to import your results into RefWorks but each one is slightly different. Below are instructions for the main databases you will use:

CINAHL (and other EBSCO databases)

  • Individual articles can be imported to RefWorks by going into the article and selecting the Export option and then clicking "Direct export to RefWorks" from the list of options.
  • To export all citations in the search results click on "Share" at the top of the results list.
  • Then select "E-mail a link to download export results". From the options then presented, select RIS, put in your University email address and click "Send". You should get an email with a link to download the RIS file.
  • You can then go into RefWorks and import the RIS file to add the citations into your chosen folder.


  • At the top of the results list click on "Send to"
  • From the options select "Citation manager"
  • Select whether you want just the results on that page, all results or ones you've selected, and then click "Creat file"
  • This will download a file in the nbib format which you can import into RefWorks to add the citations into your chosen folder

Web of Science

  • At the top of the results list click on "Export"
  • From the list of options select "RefWorks"
  • This will bring up a dialogue box where you can set which records you want exported
  • You can also select what content you want to export. We recommend selecting the "Author, Title, Source, Abstract" option as this will make screening within RefWorks easier
  • Click "Export" and this will open your RefWorks account in another tab. You can select which folder you want to import the citations into