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Nursing 561

About this Assignment

For this assignment, you will choose a broad topic (as provided by your instructor). The PICOT questions provided are intentionally very vague, and it is recommended that you narrow your focus on a particular aspect of the topic. You don't want to end up with 2,000 results to comb through! Instead, work on narrowing this down to a manageable number.

You will also need to limit your results to just articles from the past 5 years. You can do this by using the date of publication filter, found on the left side of your search screen.

If you are new to finding and accessing nursing research, we recommend reviewing the Searching Health Sciences Literature guide, which will walk you through the process.

Quick Tips

As you begin your assignment, here are a few other tips to keep in mind: 

  • Remember that PICOT is focused on a clinical intervention; often people try to make PICOT fit a non-clinical intervention, but that will make the assignment more confusing. Make sure you question is really about a clinical intervention. 
  • Use Boolean Operators to connect your search terms. Use "OR" to use synonyms (if you have multiple search terms that mean the same thing), and use "AND" to connect each must-have concept. See our guide for more info about constructing a search using boolean operators.
  • If you are using “OR” in your search (to find synonyms), make sure you use a separate search line for each concept. Alternatively, you can clump together like-concepts using parenthesis. For example:
    (lumbar pain OR low back pain)  AND  exercise  AND  (spinal manipulation OR "manual therapy" OR chiropractic)  
  • Avoid solely using acronyms/abbreviations. Instead, spell out the acronym, along with the boolean operator "OR." For example, your search for ICU would be: ICU OR Intensive Care Unit. Although some databases automatically translate some acronyms/abbreviations, that is not guaranteed, and you may miss some relevant articles.
  • Do not limit your search to full-text; any article that you can’t get immediate access to, you can request via Interlibrary Loan (which generally takes 1-3 days)
  • Avoid articles that are just general literature reviews.

Too few results?

  • Consider using synonyms for your search terms.

Too many results? 

  • Use filters to narrow down your results. 
  • Use controlled vocabulary like MeSH or CINAHL Headings. Controlled Vocabulary / Subject Headings vary from database to database. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions on how to use subject headings in a particular database. 

The process for finding and accessing literature generally looks like this. For this particular assignment, you'll be focused on the first five steps, and won't be required to do any hand-searching or utilizing grey literature (such as unpublished clinical trials).

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