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Research Literature


How do you find research literature when you are searching within a database?

  • The method you use to locate research articles will vary depending on the database you are searching
  • Tips for a few of our primary databases in the health sciences are summarized below


CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)

The CINAHL database provides an option to limit your search results to research 

  • If you are just beginning your search, you can find this limit on the main CINAHL search page under "Search Options"
  • If you have completed your search and you are viewing results, you can easily access the complete list of limits by clicking on the first "Show More" link which appears along the left hand side of the results display


MEDLINE and Embase

Databases like MEDLINE and Embase do not have limits that allow you to easily narrow your retrieval to research literature; experiment with the methods outlined below to help identify research literature in these databases.

  • Browse your retrieval and look for structured abstracts (here is an example of a structured abstract from PubMed) 
  • Although every research article does not use a structured abstract format (and, conversely, some non-research articles will use a structured abstract), looking for these elements in your retrieval is a good visual cue to identify literature that may need a closer look
  • Use a publication type limit, such as Randomized Controlled Trials, to narrow your retrieval to primarily research literature
  • Use publication type limits like case reports, letters, and editorials to narrow your retrieval to non-research items then use the Boolean operator, NOT, to eliminate these from your retrieval
  • Explore controlled vocabulary terms (subject headings) such as "Research", "Research Design", etc. then use the appropriate Boolean operators to combine these with your results and narrow your retrieval