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Practical Nursing

Example

Sample topic:  Is patient education effective in reducing COPD among smokers?

Identify the concepts in your topic:

  1. patient education
  2. COPD
  3. smokers

Use a dictionary, thesaurus, textbook, database or CINAHL Headings to find alternative search terms:

  1. patient education
  2. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  3. smoking cessation

 

Research Tips

Writing an essay requires you to answer a research question.

How does _____ contribute to _____?  Or, What is the impact of ____ on ____? (What is the impact of poverty on mental health in adulthood? Can frequent social media use make you more narcissistic?  Can community programs be used to reduce depression amongst teens?)

How you choose to answer your research question is up to you, but your response to the question should be backed by research that shows evidence to support or oppose the views being expressed.

Take keywords from your research question and formulate a search. Join ideas with AND to create a complete search:

poverty "mental health" adult*
"culturally competent care" OR "cultural safety" nursing elder*
"patient education" COPD OR "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" elder* OR senior OR geriatric smoking
Writing a research essay is similar to telling a fact-based story. Think to yourself:

What do I want to tell my reader? A thesis should tell the purpose of the paper.

You would never build a house without a blue-print, so why would you write an essay without one? Build the scaffolding before filling in the details. Break out topics and sections first so you know where your paper is going, and you know your research needs. 

Identify your keywords before searching. Use a thesaurus to come up with synonyms for the same word to expand search results.

Find a good article? Check the citations or reference list and search OCtopus to find the articles used by the author.

Tips:

  • Use KEYWORDS, avoid phrases that include filler words such as, of, the, it, if, are.
  • Words that contain multiple concepts require quotation marks to be processed as a PHRASE. For example, "Global Warming", "Child Welfare".
  • AND, OR, and NOT will improve your search results. These are BOOLEAN search terms used to join more than one search concept. 

Improve Search Results

Too many sources... 

  • You need to narrow your search
  • Use database LIMITERS (language, peer reviewed/scholarly, date, resource/material type)
  • Try the ADVANCED search option
    • Subject, author, or other selections from drop-down
    • Use database headings or the thesaurus
    • Join terms or phrases with AND, OR, NOT
  • Add additional concepts to your search  and avoid general, less specific search terms
  • Choose subject headings as your search type
  • Search for significant words in the TITLE of the article
  • Select specific article types
  • Use quotes around words to search as a phrase (ie. "global warming")

Too few sources....

  • You need to expand your search
  • Look for misspellings or typos in your search
  • Expand a search term by using synonyms (ie. geriatric OR elderly OR senior)
  • Decrease your number of search terms/concepts to broaden your search (ie. Canada AND "seniors care" AND "critical care" --> Canada AND "seniors care")
  • Try broader or more general search terms (ie. sympathetic --> empathy)
  • Try truncating search terms to find alternate endings (ie. Canad* = Canadian, Canada, Canadians, Canadiana, etc.)
  • Use the database's thesaurus or index to find the exact subject heading
  • Remove unnecessary limiters
  • Avoid sentences, long phrases, idioms, and abbreviations
  • Try other databases
  • Turn OFF the "available in OC collection" limiter in OCtopus

Tips!

Truncate words to increase your search results

  • Truncation is used to find variations of a word ending. Truncating a word will usually EXPAND your search
  • Example: Remove the ending of the word children, replace with * (or ? in library catalogue), child*. Searches for child, children, childish, child's, etc. OR elder* will search for elder OR elderly OR elders. 

Proximity searching decreases your search results

  • Proximity operators allow you to locate one word within a certain distance of another. 
  • Example: Canada w3 economy. Searches for results in which the word Canada appears within 3 words of economy

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