NURS 300 - Reading & Writing in Nursing Studies

Introduction – Read This Box!

Finding research materials to complete assignments for nursing can sometimes be difficult, but nursing students are smart, intelligent people, and are up to the challenge!

Follow each step below and use the instructions and resources on this page to help you find materials to complete your research assignments. View all five steps then review the sample search at the bottom of the page. 

Step #1

Read the rubric for your assignment(s) so you know what type of research you are expected to find for your particular assignment(s).

Step #2

This is very important! When you are searching any database from the Halle Library, e.g., CINAHL, DO NOT CHECK the Linked to Full Text boxes ever. Doing this inhibits the green Find Text+ icon from accessing all of the full text materials that are available.

To see if or how the Halle Library owns a journal, use the green FindText+  icon. It looks like this  External Link Icon. Instructions for doing this can be found here:

Step #3

Read the materials and watch the videos linked below in the exact order in which they are listed. Each one explains a skill or a piece of information that will guide you to the next step and help you complete the assignment.  

Step #4

Videos to Watch and Materials to Read

1) Navigating to a Database -
2) Boolean Terms AND & OR ; Reducing the Number of Search Results ; Wildcard/Truncation Mark Searching -
3) CINAHL - Searching with Keywords
4) CINAHL - Limiting to a Peer Reviewed Journal -


5) CINAHL - Limiting by Language -

6) CINAHL - Limiting to Research Articles in CINAHL

Step #5

Look at the topics from the table below. Evaluate which keyword or phrase from the table below most closely matches your research topic, then carefully select your keywords. Some of these keywords & phrases are more specific than others. Remember, the terms below are just a few ideas. You can always type in your own keywords.

In CINAHL, it is sometimes possible to locate more specific terms by searching the CINAHL Subject Headings. This is done by logging into CINAHL, clicking on the link located on the top of the page, on the blue bar called, CINAHL Subject Headings.  Here is a short video that explains how to do optional activity:

CINAHL Keywords or Search Terms Commonly Used for Nursing Research Topics



Use These Words or Phrases



For:  Nurse to patient ratio:

“nurse patient ratio”

For:  How health care providers feel about certain things

“attitude of health personnel”

“registered nurses psychosocial factors”

“nurse attitudes”

For:  Types of health care providers

“nursing staff hospital”

"nursing practice"

“advanced nursing practice”

“nurse administrators”

“health personnel”

“allied health personnel”

For: Nursing shortage

“nursing shortage”


“personnel staffing and scheduling”


 flexible Scheduling

For: Health outcomes,  patient satisfaction, safety, or errors

“nursing outcomes”

“quality of nursing care”

“outcomes health care”

“patient reported outcomes”

“patient care”

“patient satisfaction”

“patient safety”

“adverse health care event”

“adverse drug event”

“health care errors”

For: Personnel recruitment or retention

“personnel retention”

“personnel recruitment”

“personnel loyalty”

For: Bullying



A Sample Search


In this imaginary assignment, the topic I’m interested in researching centers around patient safety and how many patients are assigned to each nurse on a given shift.

Step #1 – I look over the keywords and phrases from the table above and decide that “nurse patient ratio” and “patient safety” most closely capture my topic. So, I copy and paste the search into the CINAHL search boxes. (By the way, it doesn’t matter which keyword or phrase is placed in which search box. Each box is treated equally.)

First search box: “nurse patient ratio”

Second search box: “patient safety”

Step #2

I have read my assignment’s rubric, so I know I have to select a research-based article from a peer reviewed journal from the last 10 years, and I only read and speak the English language. So, I scroll down the Advanced Search page under the Search Options section and I:

  • DO NOT check the box in front of Linked Full Text

Do check the box in front of:

  • Research Article
  • English Language (unless I’m fluent in another language)
  • Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • In the Published Date area, in the Year box, I type in 2010 in one box and 2020 in the other box

'Basic Research & Writing Skills in Nursing' Workshop Video