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Finding Articles Written by Nurses: Home

Using CINAHL to Find Articles Written by Nurses

A very useful means of finding articles written by nurses is to use CINAHL (“Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature”), an electronic database accessible via the “Database List” link on the homepage of the Biomedical Library

CINAHL Limiters

In particular, the CINAHL Advanced Search has two limiters entitled “First Author is Nurse” and “Any Author is Nurse” which will narrow search results to articles written (from 2009 onwards) by authors with a nursing credential, ie., RN, BSN, MSN or equivalent foreign credential (such as the British “RGN” or “RMN”), as long as the credentials are listed in the article.  These two limiters are both found on the limits page, which is accessible under “Search Options” on the main search page of CINAHL Advanced Search or under “Show More” on the search results page in CINAHL Advanced Search.  These limiters are not available in CINAHL Basic Search at present.

CINAHL Field Codes

Although these two limiters will not be helpful in locating nurse-authored articles published before 2009 or articles in which the credentials of the author are not mentioned, there are other means in CINAHL of finding articles written by nurses, including the use of field codes.  Field codes in CINAHL allow you to restrict your search to one specific field that is referenced in the CINAHL record.  Fields and field codes are found in the drop-down box immediately to the right of the main search box on the CINAHL search page.

As an illustration, the CINAHL field code “AF" for the "Author Affiliation” field restricts a search to an author’s institution, i.e., where the author works, as long as this information is listed in the article itself.  Entering “nursing” in the search box on the main search page of CINAHL Advanced Search and restricting the search by using the field code “AF Author Affiliation” (located in the drop-down box between the main search box and the “Search” button) will restrict search results to articles written by authors affiliated with an institution that has the word “nursing” in the title, such as “College of Nursing,” “School of Nursing,” or “Department of Nursing.”  Since a nurse author is more likely to work at either a college of nursing, school of nursing, or department of nursing, the “AF Author Affiliation” field, by narrowing search results to articles written by authors affiliated with an institution containing the word “nursing” in the title, can be a useful means of locating articles written by nurses.   A caveat: searching by field is only available in CINAHL Advanced Search, not CINAHL Basic Search.

In addition, the “AF Author Affiliation” field makes it possible to search by nursing qualification, such as “DNP,” “CRNA” or “FNP,” if this qualification appears adjacent to the name of an author of the article in the abstract or full text of the article itself.  For example, entering “FNP” in the search box with the “AF Author Affiliation” field specified will return articles with an author who is a family nurse practitioner.

Another useful means of finding articles written by nurses is to use the SO Publication Name field code.  SO is an abbreviation for "source," i.e., the name of the journal.  Typing in “nursing” in the search box and selecting the field “SO Publication Name” in the drop-down box to the right of the search box will restrict search results to journals with the word “nursing” in the title of the journal, such as Journal of Advanced Nursing.  An even more precise way to search would be to type nurs* in the search box, instead of nursing.  Using the asterisk (*) in this manner is a useful technique called truncation, and searching the term nurs* retrieves results from journals with the four-letter word root n-u-r-s in the title, including the words nursing, nurse, or nurses.  As an illustration, entering nurs* in the search box and restricting the search by use of the SO Publication Type field code would retrieve results from the following three journals: American Nurse, Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and Journal of Advanced Nursing.  (This technique of truncation can also be used with the “AF Author Affiliation” field code.)

A final method of searching for articles written by nurses is to use the “Nursing” limiter found in the Journal Subset drop-down box on the limits page in either CINAHL Advanced Search or CINAHL Basic Search, thus restricting search results to journals with a nursing focus.

One final note: using the “Nursing” limiter or the field codes AF or SO as described herein will limit search results to articles more likely to have a nurse author; however, you should still examine an article to check whether or not there are nursing credentials listed for the author, such as “Debra Davis RN, MSN, DSN.”

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