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Nursing Research Guide


Find Background Information

Reference books are useful for finding a brief overview of a topic, or for definitions, drug information, and other quick facts. They may also reference additional related books, articles, documents, and other useful sources. Many medical and nursing reference books are updated annually or every few years. Always make sure that you have the most recent information available. Also keep in mind that some books are written for health care professionals and others for patients and health consumers. The following are some sources that may prove helpful.

Dictionaries define words and terms. Medical dictionaries often function as miniature medical encyclopedias, and may include a brief list of symptoms, charts, anatomical illustrations, pathology, diagnosis, and patient care considerations in addition to definitions. Some medical dictionaries focus specifically on nursing and allied health terms. Here are some examples:

  1. Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary
    Reference 610.3 M894 (Florissant Valley, Forest Park, and Meramec)
  2. Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary
    Reference 610.3 D711 (Florissant Valley, Forest Park, and Meramec)

Encyclopedias provide a basic understanding or overview of entries. Subject encyclopedias for Nursing include:

  1. Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health
    Reference 610.73 G151 (Florissant Valley)

Manuals, handbooks, and drug guides are also found in the Reference area.

  1. Nursing Diagnosis Reference Manual
    Reference 615.102 D318d (Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec)
  2. Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses
    Reference 610.73 S736 (Florissant Valley and Meramec)
    Reserve 610.73 S736 (Forest Park)

Look for encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books with keyword searches in the library catalog by adding the term "encyclopedia" or "dictionary" to the keyword search.  (See Find Books)

Find Books   

Begin in the STLCC Catalog to find books in the library. The two basic methods for searching are the keyword and the subject searches. A subject search is best if you have a broad topic, for example a common disease such as diabetes or cancer. The SLCC catalog uses Library of Congress Subject Headings, a standard list of subject terms. Sometimes a subject search will lead you to the correct heading. For example, a search for the subject stroke will lead to the subject heading cerebrovascular disease.

If your topic is more specific, you can combine words in a keyword search. Keep in mind that keywords are not necessarily subject words. For example, a keyword search for stroke will find books on the medical condition, but also books with the word stroke used in a different way, such as "The Stroke of Midnight." Some examples of keyword searches include

  1. Wom*n AND heart disease
  2. Nursing AND cerebrovascular disease
  3. cancer AND care plans
  4. Diabetes AND (diet* or nutrition)

NOTE: The asterisk (*) truncates a term and will retrieve all forms of the word that follow the truncation symbol. For example, diet* will retrieve diet, diets, dieting, dietetics and dietitian. The asterisk can also be used as a wildcard for an unknown letter, as in wom*n, etc.

For more help using the STLCC Catalog, visit Searchpath, Module 3.

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Find Articles

Use the databases to search for journal, magazine and newspaper articles. Although articles on nursing and health issues can be found in many databases, these are the best databases to use for nursing research. The library databases are available online from the STLCC Library Web page. If you are on a campus computer you can access the databases directly. If you are off-campus you will need to enter your current STLCC student, faculty, or staff identification

  1. Health and Wellness Resource Center
    This is a blended database of articles from popular health magazines, medical and nursing journals, and health reference sources.
  2. Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
    (EBSCOhost). Full text of articles from approximately 550 nursing, medical, and allied health journals along with indexing and abstracts for about 850 more. Can be limited to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals. It can also be searched in conjunction with other EBSCOhost databases such as Academic Search Elite, HealthSource Consumer Edition, and Alt-Health Watch.
  3. National Library of Medicine Gateway
    Available for free over the Internet, PubMed is a database of article citations and abstracts from thousands of biomedical journals published worldwide. Full text of the articles is not included, although links to other sources of full text are sometimes provided.

You may also link to a list of specific journals in nursing or a complete listing of the library databases.

For more help using the databases, visit Searchpath, Module 4.

Find Web Sites

Some excellent web sites on Nursing in general are available on the STLCC Libraries Recommended Websites page for Nursing.

When using a search engine or metasearch engine, spend some time investigating the sites--make sure that they are legitimate! Remember to apply the five evaluation criteria:

  1. Accuracy (Is the information presented verifiable?)
  2. Authority (Who wrote/sponsored the web site?)
  3. Objectivity (What is the site's purpose--to inform, to persuade, to sell?)
  4. Currency (This is especially important for medical and nursing topics. When was the site created? Are the links still active? Does more recent research on the topic exist?)
  5. Use (Is the site written for nurses? Other health professionals? Students? Patients and health consumers?)

For additional information about web research, see Searchpath, Module 5.

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