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Nursing Tutorial: Unit 1


This online tutorial is designed to help you locate information on a given topic - whether popular or scholarly and whether primary or secondary.

You will discover many resources in the Cressman Library collection, both in print and online.

You will also find out how to select and request resources from other libraries.

How to differentiate scholarly and popular journals:

Scholarly Journals - A scholarly journal is a periodical written for scholars and researchers in a particular field. This type of journal usually publishes peer reviewed articles.

Popular Magazines - Popular magazines are not recommended for scholarly research. A popular magazine publishes articles written by staff writers for a general audience.

See also: Researching... LibGuide | Popular Magazines vs. Scholarly Journals

How to differentiate primary and secondary sources:

Primary source - A primary source is a quantitative or qualitative research study that describes an intervention and its outcome on a specific population. Keywords may include: case study, methodology, design and data analysis.

Secondary source - A secondary source is an editorial or review article that summarizes what is known about a particular topic. Keywords may include: summary of, literature review and systematic review.

See also: Researching... LibGuide | Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Topic 1

Choose a topic for research and know the extent of information needed.

A topic may be:

1. assigned by your professor
2. developed through discussion
3. developed by reading or via the media
4. of personal interest
5. based on professional experience

A topic should:

be very interesting to you
not be too broad and not be too narrow

For example, you may decide on a topic while reading, whether a reference book, a scholarly journal or popular magazine, or the morning newspaper. Further develop your topic as you locate information. You may need to broaden or narrow it.

Topic 2

Determine the nature and extent of information needed:

1. Explore a variety of information sources to increase your familiarity with your topic.
2. Develop a working knowledge of related terminology
3. Begin your search with reference books
    a. Obtain a general overview of a topic
    b. Define the focus and scope of your topic
    c. Find bibliographies that cite classic or standard works in the field
    d. Browse the index for subjects related to your topic

Cressman Library reference books in Nursing; examples:

Nursing Leadership: A Concise Encyclopedia
R 610.73 N974L

Encyclopedia of Nursing Research
R 610.73072 F553E2

Resources for Nursing Research: An Annotated Bibliography
R 016.61073 C586R

Topic 3

“Controlled Vocabulary”

Search with words and phrases specific to your topic and/or specific to the database. For example, use Library of Congress Subject Headings, “major concepts” from CINAHL Headings, or the ERIC Thesaurus for descriptors.


PubMed MeSH Database (Medical Subject Headings) is the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) controlled vocabulary thesaurus used for indexing articles for PubMed.

In EBSCOhost CINAHL, search by CINAHL Headings (based on MeSH).

In EBSCOhost (any database), note the major and minor subjects for a given article, for example:

In FirstSearch, see Subjects: and Related Subjects: . See also: MeSH subjects/descriptors in MEDLINE.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors

Subject Guide

Sheri Schneider's picture
Sheri Schneider
Electronic Resources/Information & Instructional Services Librarian

Cedar Crest College
Cressman Library
Main Level, Room 304

Office Hours:
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. M, T, W, F
1 p.m. - 9 p.m. R (Academic Year)
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