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NURS 4610: Translating Evidence for Nursing Practice: Database Options / Database Searching 101

What are the advantages of using a database?

There are several advantages in using a research database to conduct searches for scientific research evidence. 

  • Databases are subscription products made available to you from the UToledo Libraries, and they provide access to full-text content that is unavailable through free search engines on the web 
  • Databases index professional, scholarly, peer-reviewed literature
  • A variety of search options are available, from basic to advanced searching
  • Relevant filters and limiters are available to narrow down your search
  • Users can create accounts in databases to save searches and set-up e-mail alerts

Key Databases for Searching

Click the links below to access databases. From off-campus, after clicking on a database, you will be prompted to enter your UT credentials. 

CINAHL & MEDLINE (available in EBSCOhost)

Other EBSCOhost databases

Search Tips and Tricks

Strategy Function
Keyword Searching

Similar to "Google-like" searching where the database will retrieve results based on the terms you enter

Does not take into consideration the context of those terms

Typically retrieves several results, although many may not be relevant to the topic

Keyword searching is very flexible and is a good way to begin a search, especially if you are unsure of the correct terminology to use.  As you begin reading through your results, you may notice trends and patterns in terminology that you can then apply and adapt to your search strategy.   

VIDEO TUTORIALS: CINAHL Advanced Searching (applicable to all EBSCO databases)

Subject Heading Searching

A targeted, specific way to search using a database's built-in controlled vocabulary 

Various databases have their own subject headings - i.e. CINAHL Headings in CINAHL and the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in MEDLINE.  

Controlled vocabulary subject headings function like a thesaurus and will take into consideration synonyms, abbreviations, and variations in spelling

Typically retrieves fewer results than keyword searching, yet results are oftentimes more relevant  

VIDEO TUTORIALS: CINAHL & MeSH Subject Headings | Browsing Subject Terms (applies to all other EBSCO databases)


After conducting a search in a database, you can filter, refine and narrow your search results by applying limiters. 

Limiters are often located along the left side of your database search results page. Select appropriate limiters that are relevant to your topic or your information need. 

Commonly applied limiters include publication date, type of article, age group, gender, etc. 

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators provide a logical way to combine keyword or subject heading terms using AND, OR, or NOT

"AND" will narrow your search by combining one of more terms together

"OR" will broaden your search by retrieving results on any of the terms you enter 

"NOT" will exclude designated terms from your results 

VIDEO TUTORIALS: CINAHL Advanced Searching (applicable for all EBSCO databases) 

Phrase Searching

Use of quotes will tell the database to retrieve results with that exact phrase

"Algase Wandering Scale" 


Use of parentheses will group desired search terms together in combination with appropriate Boolean operators

(dementia OR "Alzheimer's disease") AND ("fall prevention" OR "fall risk assessment") 


Use of an asterisk * after the root of a word will search for various word endings 

nurs* will find nurse, nurses, nursing

anesth* will find anesthesiology, anesthetist, anesthesiologist