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NUR 4050 - Nursing Research

Scholarly Research

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a written approach to examining published information on a particular topic or field. An author uses this review of literature to create a foundation and justification for his or her research or to demonstrate knowledge on the current state of a field.

How to Identify a Scholarly Research Article
  • Abstract
    • Summarizes the articles content.
  • Methods
    • Can also appear as Methodology, Research Methods, etc. This section describes the methods used by the authors to collect data.
  • Findings
    • Can also appear as Data Analysis, Analysis, Results, etc. This section analyzes the collected data.
  • Conclusion
    • A summary of the findings. 
  • Reference List
Understanding Peer Review

The cornerstone of scholarly research is the peer review process. Articles are reviewed by experts prior to publication. These experts (peers) consider the validity of the author(s) methods, findings and conclusions.

Search Terms

Developing Keywords

Prior to searching library databases, take a few minutes to consider which search terms or keywords best describe your topic. 

Sample Topic: Using music to improve recovery experience for kids after surgery.

Step 1 - Identify the main ideas - Using music to improve recovery experience for kids after surgery.

Step 2 - Brainstorm Broader, Related and Narrower Terms. Remember that Scholarly articles are published by experts, consider the language that an expert would use.

Music Kids Surgery
Music Therapy Children Postoperative
Music Intervention Adolescents Postoperative Care 
  Pediatric Pain Management
    Pain Prevention

Adjusting Your Topic

During the research process, you may discover that your topic needs to be adjusted based on the research available from 2010 to present. Here are a few examples:

  • Topic: Alternative medicine for children
    • Problem: Not about nursing.
    • Solution: Tried search terms Pediatric Nurs* AND Alternative Medicine
      • Found serveral articles on Therapeutic Play
    • New Topic: Therapeutic play for children in hospitals.
  • Topic: Using alternative medicine to improve recovery.
    • Problem: No Results
    • Solution: Adjust Search Terms, Use Narrower Terms
      • Alternative Medicine = Aromatherapy, Acupuncture and Herbalism
      • Improve Recovery = Pain Management
    • New Topic: Using alternative medicine to manage patient pain.

Advanced Search Techniques

Search Statements

Use Boolean Operators AND, OR and NOT to create Search Statements. 


  • Pediatric AND Postoperative AND Music
  • (Pediatric OR Children) AND (Postoperative Care OR Pain Management) AND (Music OR Music Therapy)
  • (Pediatric AND Postoperative Care) NOT Infant


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


  • Nurs* - Searches for Nurse, Nurses, Nursed, Nursing
  • Child* - Child, Children, Childish

Broaden or Narrow Search Results

Problem: No Results. Broaden your results. Try using OR instead of AND. Try fewer keywords, use broader keywords.

Problem: Too Many Results. Narrow your results. Use AND or NOT. Use limiters such as Date Range or Subject. Add more keywords. 

Citation Chasing

Once you find a good article, go through the Reference List. Often, authors will cite other articles on your topic. Check to see if the library has these articles by searching for the Journal Title in Journal Search

"Cited By" Searching

In addition to reviewing an article's reference list, you can check to see if other articles have cited a particular article. In Google Scholar, type the Article Title. Then look for the Cited By and Related Article links.