big fat menu

What Type of Research Are You Doing?

  1. Evidence Based Practice (EBP): Use Concept Map With Instructions to craft your search.  Then search for high-level evidence based resources found in Cochrane, Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI), Essential Evidence Plus, National Guideline Clearinghouse, CINAHL, PubMed, and TRIP.  Other databases you can try are, Web of Science, and Google (see below under Grey Literature for how to set up a site search).
  2. Literature Review/Research: Start with core databases-OVID MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI).  Use Web of Science (WOS) to discover most cited articles and most published authors.  Use Concept Map With Instructions to craft your search and the Literature Review Citation Management Flow Chart.docx for RefWorks citation management (Using RefWorks to Manage Citations for a Major Research Project.docx).  Check Google Scholar and do a site search in Google to find grey literature.  Other subject-related databases, such as PsycINFO, SocINDEX and SPORTDiscus (sports medicine/rehabilitation) can also be used, if needed.

Research Databases

1. OVID MEDLINE: Use when doing research that requires you to replicate a search, such as for a literature review or a systematic review.  Search one concept at a time, AND concepts together, and then provide limits, if necessary.  For EBP content, select higher level research (Randomized Controlled Trial/Systematic Review/Meta Analysis) in Publication Types.
Exporting OVID Citations to RefWorks

2. CINAHL: Structured search interface for nursing and allied health literature, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed articles.  Like OVID MEDLINE, search one concept at a time, AND concepts together, and then provide limits, if necessary. For EBP content, select higher level research (Randomized Controlled Trial/Systematic Review/Meta Analysis/Meta Synthesis) in Publication Types.

Exporting CINAHL Citations to RefWorks.pdf

3. Web of Science: Interdisciplinary database with over 12,000 journal titles.  Best database for finding cited sources, forward (descendant) and backward (ancestry) in time.  Search using keywords.  Re-sort results to Relevancy or Most Cited.  Analyze results to see who publishes the most on the topic and which institutions produce the most articles.

Exporting Web of Science Citations to RefWorks.pdf

4. Cochrane Library Use when you need to find the highest level of evidence (systematic reviews, RCTs, and CCTs), or when you are looking for clinical trials.  Protocol means the study has been registerd but not completed.  Clinical trials are listed in the Trials database.  Search using keywords.

Exporting Cochrane citations to RefWorks

5. Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI): Similar to Cochrane, but for nursing literature.  Contains systematic reviews and other types of EBP information.  Search using keywords.

Exporting JBI Citations to RefWorks

6. PubMed: Google-like search interface for MEDLINE.  Search using keywords.
Exporting PubMed Citations to RefWorks

7. PsycINFO: Use if there is a psychological aspect to your research.  Search using keywords.

8. Google Scholar Searches full-text articles from a variety of sources, including scholarly journals, dissertations, books, and web sites.  Search using keywords.

Google Scholar Settings.pdf

PRISMA Flow Diagram Generator

Grey Literature

Grey literature is any literature not published in journals, such as reports, dissertations, and government documents.

Try this strategy for locating grey literature: search Google with search terms followed by  Repeat the search using and then 

Example: "hospital preparedness" bioterrorism

Use RefGrab-It (look under Tools in RefWorks) to export results into RefWorks.

Creating Search Alerts

Most databases provide ways to create search and table of contents alerts.  Below are two examples using CINAHL and PubMed.

1. CINAHL  Create a free EBSCOHost account.  Run your search, click on the RSS symbol to the left of your search in the Search History section, and follow instructions. 

2. OVID MEDLINE:' Select Create Auto-Alert from the More drop-down menu next to the Display Results link for your search.

3. PubMed  Create a free NCBI account.  Run your search and then click on Create Alert underneath the search box and follow instructions.

Clinical Decision Support

Clinical decision support database utilize evidence based practice information.

Patient Education Sources

  • MedlinePlus National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends
  • ClinicalKey select Patient Education from the drop-down menu to the left of the search box
  • UpToDate  medical conditions and treatment options
  • Micromedex select CareNotes from the Micromedex page
  • PubMed Health consumer health information
  • WebMD  commercial health information provider

Drug Information

  • Drug Information Portal gateway to selected drug information from the National Library of Medicine and other key government agencies
  •  commercial site owned by WebMD
  • commercial website that pulls content from reputable sources
  • ClinicalKey select Drug Monographs from the drop-down menu to the left of the search box
  • Micromedex  single source of clinical information — from need-to-know drug, pediatric, disease, lab, and toxicology information to comprehensive resources for patient and consumer education
  • UpToDate
  • Pubmed Health Drugs A-Z

Online Textbooks and Ebooks

These are electronic collections of books and texbooks.  AccessMedicine, for example, provides one-search access to over 80 medical textbooks, including Harrison's.

  • AccessMedicine e-book collection including Harrison's Online and Hurst's the Heart

Instructions for exporting content into RefWorks

  • ClinicalKey over 1000 medical and surgical reference books, along with over 500 journals
  •    e-book collection of nursing and medical textbooks
  •     includes over 100 medical and nursing e-books

  •   over 80 medical and nursing e-books

  •  over 300 nursing e-books

  •  clinical reference to synthesized medical information

  • VIRGO  search VIRGO by keywords and use Format facets on the left to limit search results to formats such as Books, Ebooks, Streaming Video, and Government Documents

Is it Peer Reviewed?

What is the peer review process?

Impact & Influence of Journal or Article

An article that has been cited by other authors has greater impact than other less-cited articles.  Keep in mind, that current artlces will be cited by fewer authors.

  • Journal Citation Reports tool for determining Impact Factor of a journal
  • Web of Science For articles, check Times Cited for number of times article was cited by articles in Web of Science.  Check Usage Count for number of times article was downloaded or exported to citation manager.
  • Google Scholar for articles, check Cited By for number of times article was cited by anything accessed by Scholar
  • Altmetric Bookmarklet tool for determining influence or interest in a journal article

Where to Publish

Check these sources to find the best match for an article you want to get published.

  • Directory of Nursing Journals a collective of nursing editors and publishers focused on meeting the research needs of the nursing profession

  • JANE (Journal/Author/Name Estimator) enter keywords and JANE will find best matching journals

  • JournalGuide in addition to searching by journal name, category or publisher, authors can use the title and abstract of a paper to discover journals that have already published articles on similar topics

  • Journal Citation Reports (JCR) tool for determining Impact Factor of a journal

Intro to JRC (3 min video)

What is Open Access? (8 min. video)

Images for Presentations

If you need images for a presentation, start with the sources below. 

  • AccessMedicine note that you can send the image directly to a PowerPoint slide

  • BioImage Search biomedical images you can use i.e., images with Public Domain & Creative Commons licenses

  • ClinicalKey search your term using the Multimedia limit under the All tab.

Tests, Surveys, and Measurements 

  • PsycTESTS provides access to psychological tests, measures, scales, surveys, and other assessments as well as descriptive information about the test and its development and administration

  • Mental Measurements Yearbook find reviews, reliability and validity information for commercially available tests

  • ERIC use Tests/Questionnaires limit in Publication Type

  • CINAHL use Questionnaire/Scale limit in Publication Type

  • UpToDate 

Global health

  • NationMaster extensive compilation of political, social, economic, environmental, etc. data on nations
  • CDC Global Health global health information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Historical Literature

Searching for historical nursing literature can be challenging.  CINAHL can yield results, however, keep in mind that the online CINAHL databases goes back only until 1981.  Therefore, to find earlier articles, search the library's CINAHL print indexes, which are located in the lobby and go back to 1956. Searching VIRGO can also yield results, as will a MEDLINE search, which goes back to 1879 in print (Index Medicus) and online (PubMed or OVID MEDLINE) the late1940s. Historical literature can also be found in the following indexes:


  • VIRGO search UVA's collection of books and ebooks combining your topic with History in the Subject field (e.g. polio AND history)

  • Google Books enter topic in search box and then limit by century or date range using Search Tools-->Any time


  • JSTOR older issues of scholarly journals
  • American Periodicals periodicals published between 1740 and 1940, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines and many other historically-significant periodicals 


Letters & Diaries