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NUR 3450 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

Searching a database is different than typing your question into Google.

You need to be precise in your language and communicate using the language of the database.
You can learn to be an expert searcher with these strategies. 

Use the Advanced Search

Use the advanced search feature to form a smarter search. Separating out your concepts helps the database understand what you mean.

Using advanced search also makes it easier to set other requirements for your research, like the date range during which it was published or what type of material it is.

The button for advanced search will look different on each database platform, but it's worth finding it. 

Search Tips

Developing Keywords

Brainstorm broader, narrower, and related terms.

PICO Question:

In nurses (P), what is the effect of high nurse patient ratios (I) compared to low nurse patient ratios (C) on medication errors (O)? ​​

Nurses Nurse Patient Ratios Medication Errors
Nursing Students Staff Ratios Drug Errors
Pediatric Nurses Workload Patient Safety 
ICU Low staffing Medication Administration Errors

Found too many results?

Add more keywords.

Adding additional keywords to your search can help to further narrow your topic.

Example: nursing AND music therapy AND pediatrics 


Found too few results?

Use OR.

Broaden your search by using OR to link your terms.

Example: nursing AND (music therapy OR music intervention) AND (pediatrics OR children OR adolescents)

Advanced Searching

Boolean Operators

Use the Boolean Operators AND, OR and NOT to create search statements to enter in databases, Spartan Search, Google, etc.

Peanut Butter AND Jelly: only results with both peanut butter and jelly; Peanut Butter OR Jelly: results with peanut butter, with jelly, and with both; Peanut Butter NOT Jelly, results with Peanut Butter only


  • College AND Technology AND Learning
  • (College OR Higher Education OR University) AND (Technology OR Computers) AND (Learning OR Instruction)
  • (Technology AND Learning AND Elementary ) NOT College



Wildcards allows you to search for multiple terms with the same root at once by using an asterisk. 


  • Educat* = Educate, Education, Educational, Educator
  • Child* = Child, Children, Childish


Phrase Searching

Search for exact phrases using quotation marks.


  • "higher education": returns results that contain the exact phrase "higher education"

Citation Chasing

Citation Chasing and "Cited By" Searching

Finding one article on your topic can often lead to a lot more! Browse the references of the article to find sources cited in their literature review. The authors are likely experts on the topic and have already done the searching for you! 
Some tools can also help you find sources that have cited the one you are reading since it was published. By nature, these will be more recent!

There is often a feature built into library databases that provides a linked list of references. In Spartan Search, click the red arrows next to the article's title to find the article's References (the downward-facing arrow), and articles that have cited this title (the upward-facing arrow).

screenshot of article record in Spartan Search highlights tools on the upper right with arrows pointing up and down


Don't see that option? You can manually copy that title into Spartan Search, ideally in quotation marks, to look for the full text. If you don't find your article, you can try searching on Google Scholar to see if there is a free copy available. Free copies are linked to the right of the article title.

Still can't find it? Create a request in your TIPASA Interlibrary Loan Account.

Need more help?

Check out this Guide to the Research Process or ask a librarian.

You can contact a librarian through chat, text, phone, question form, or in-person. You can even schedule an appointment with a librarian in Academic Support Net.




Library Information

Information & Research Help

630-844-5437 (phone)

630-844-3848 (fax)

630-796-7615 (text)

Interlibrary Loan


Phillips Library

347 S. Gladstone Ave.

Aurora, Illinois


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