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Searching for Scholarly Articles

Some basics on finding relevant articles.

Conducting Search

Whenever you are searching, please be reminded that you are building your search strategy. Do not waste your time. This is an iterative process that takes time, but use the results to your advantage.

Remember you are entering a world of words where experts and database 'talking' through words. They are speaking in their language. Use it to your advantage.

Start by doing a preliminary search using the words from the key concepts of your research question. Combine concepts using boolean operators


Example Question: Is mindfulness an effective approach to reduce burnout among emergency nurses?

 Population (P): Critical Care Nurses

Intervention (I): Mindfulness

Comparison (C): No mindfulness techniques

Outcomes (O) : Reduced burnout

Step 1 : Initial Search

Submit a term, look through the titles and abstracts for like or related terms that you are using. Type in each related term and combine using OR to you retrieve all possible articles of the concepts. 

Example Search:

Search 1: "emergency nurse" OR "ER nurse"

Search 2: burnout OR exhaustion

Search 3: mindfulness

Combine different concepts using AND to retrieve relevant article. Note all articles may not be relevant to your topic.

Always look to use all results to advance your search towards the articles you can use for your assignments.

Step 2: Evaluate Search Results

Review the title and abstracts of your search results.  If you are doing an assignment, you may have set of guidelines from instructors for evaluating results. 

For MN students, meet with your librarian to discuss more.

Step 3: Revise Search

Based on the relevancy of your search results, add or remove relevant key words. Perform the search again.