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MSN/DNP Online Orientation Guide: CINAHL and PubMed

Information covered in the online orientation for the MSN and DNP programs.

Literature Searches

Many of your assignments will require you to find scholarly articles by nurse authors, within certain date ranges, and that describe certain study types. Two of the most common databases for these types of searches are CINAHL and PubMed.

For more information:

CINAHL Advanced Search Tutorial

PubMed for Nurses Tutorial


CINAHL (Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health) can be accessed through the library's homepage on campus or remotely. This database provides full-text for more than 1300 journals but also contains citations for health care books, nursing dissertations, selected conference proceedings, standards of practice, audiovisuals, book chapters, legal cases, clinical innovations, critical paths, research instruments and clinical trials. CINAHL also has many ways to apply limiters to your searches.

Nurse Author

Checking the limiter "First Author is Nurse" or "Any Author is Nurse" will bring up articles written after 2009 that have authors with a nursing credential, such as RN, BSN, MSN or the equivalent foreign credentials. 

For tips on finding articles by nurse authors written before 2009, please see the guide Finding Articles Written by Nurses.

Date Range

By setting the Published Date limiter, you will only bring up articles within the defined date range. If you do not set this range before starting your search, look at the menu to the left of your search results and you will see a Publication Date slide bar that allows you define a date range to refine your results.

Publication Type

The Publication Type limiter can be used to narrow your search to specific types of studies. To select more than one option, hold down the CTRL key (Command key on Mac) and click on the publication types with your mouse.


PubMed , from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, has over 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. When accessed through the Biomedical Library homepage, you will be linked to library holdings when full text is available.

Study Type, Date Range and Journal Category

After your initial search, you will see limiters pop up on the left side of your search results. Here, you can limit to certain article/study types and a date range. 

By clicking "Show additional filters" you can add a limiter for Journal Type. This will allow you to select Nursing Journals if you need to limit to only nursing journals.

Study Type

When study types are searched directly in PubMed, they will search as a keyword and map to relevant MeSH terms. Unlike CINAHL, study types are not publication types, they are investigative techniques.

You may also limit to certain study type categories and systematic reviews using filters available under PubMed tools > Clinical Queries.