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This guide provides quick access to the best resources at WU for conducting research related to nursing studies

Basic Research Steps

Research databases are tools for finding the articles you need. They do the following:

  • Index the journal articles of a specific subject area
  • Allow for searching by keywords and, in the sciences and clinical fields, by formal subject terms (controlled vocabulary)
  • Allow for combining terms using logical operators to get more relevant results offer ways to limit to further customize results
  • Link to a copy of the identified e-journal article or provide information on obtaining a copy
  • Give output options including printing, emailing, downloading, or "exporting" results (to RefWorks for example)

The Research Process:

  • Identify and Develop your Topic - Use books, journal articles and websites from your discipline to find interesting and relevant concepts that you want to explore further. Talk to professors to discover current issues and new research in your field. Consider the multiple perspectives on your topic.
  • Search the Online Catalog (WebPAC) to Find Books and other Resources on Your Topic  - Use WebPAC, the Widener University Library to find books on your topic that are available in the library. You can also search WebPAC for  journal titles, ebooks, videos, DVDs and CDs that the library owns.
  • Search Online Subscription Databases to Find Journal Articles and Other Scholarly Materials on your Topic  - Use Wolfgram Library Databases to find scholarly articles, ebooks, book chapters, streaming videos, and more about your topic. You can also obtain access to dissertations and Newspaper Articles from the databases. Browse the A to Z Database list to find the best database for your topic.
  • Find and Evaluate Internet Resources on Your Topic - If you use the internet to find useful, authoritative web resources on your topic,  make sure to evaluate each site that you find to ensure that the information in reliable and valid.
  • Cite Your Sources - Create accurate and complete citations for each resource used in a research paper by using the citation style required by your professor.

Click on The Research Process for more help!

Using Preferred Search Terms

One way to get more relevant search results is to use the databases' preferred subject terms.  Unfortunately, each database is different.  This table shows how four of the best databases for health science research use different subject terms for age groups.

CINAHL w/ Full Text


Health Source Nursing

SPORTDiscus w/ Full Text

  • Child: Birth – 12 years
    • Infant, Newborn: Birth – 1 month
    • Infant: 1 month – 23 months
  • Infant, Newborn: Birth – 28 days
  • Infant: 1 month – 23 months
  • Child, Preschool: 2 – 5 years
  • Child: 6 – 12 years
  • Children: Birth – 12 years
  • Newborn Infants: Birth – 1 month
  • Infants: Birth – 2 years
  • Toddlers: 1 year – 3 years
  • Preteens: 9 – 12 years
  • Children: Birth – 12 years
  • School Children: 5 – 13 years
  • Adolescence: 13 – 18 years
  • Adolescent: 13 – 18 years
  • Teenagers: 13 – 18 years
  • Youth: 13 – 25 years
  • Adolescence: life period between puberty and adulthood
  • Teenagers: 13-18 years
  • Youth: 13-25 years


  • Adult: 19 – 44 years
    • Young Adult: 19 – 24 years
  • Adult: 19 – 44 years
    • Young Adult: 19 – 24 years
  • Young Adults: 18 – 25 years
  • Adults: persons who are fully grown and have reached a legal age of majority
  • Young Adults: 18-25 years


  • Middle Age: 45 – 64 years
  • Middle Aged: 45 – 64 years
  • Middle Age: 40 – 60 years


  • Aged: 65 – 79 years
  • Aged: 65 – 79 years
  • Older People: “the aged in general”
  • Older People: “the aged in general”
  • Aged, 80 and over: 80+ years
  • Aged, 80 and over: 80+ years




Finding Preferred Subject Terms

Since each database prefers different subject terms, the best way to find what the database you're using likes is by using their thesaurus.

When you enter a database, check the top ribbon for "Thesaurus" or "Subject Terms" - this is the tool we use to find preferred subject terms.

After entering your term in the "Browse" text box, you should get a result like the one below that offers a preferred search term.  If you click the link with the preferred subject term it will open a new screen that gives a definition for the term.  It's wise to check that the database's definition matches your original search term.

We recommend writing down or keeping a spreadsheet with the name of the database and the subject terms that it prefers to help you search in the future.

DOI | Digital Object Identifier

What is a DOI?

"A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet." -American Psychological Association (APA)

Where can you find a DOI?

You can find the DOI in the search results list or the abstract page for a particular article. 

Please Note: not all articles are assigned a DOI's (Digital Object Identifier), see flow chart below for info.

From the Purdue OWL, see how to cite the DOI.

Cited Reference Searching

What is cited reference searching?

Cited references are the articles, books or other materials listed in a bibliography or as works cited in a particular publication. Because citation databases index each reference, it is possible to search these cited references. One can follow a particular cited reference, or cited author, forward in time to find more current articles that have also cited that author or work.

Why use cited reference searching?

  • To locate current research based on earlier research
  • To find out how often and where a publication is being cited
  • To find out who is citing a particular paper
  • To find out how a particular research topic is being used to support other research
  • To track the history of a researcher or a research idea
  • To determine how well your own published research is cited for promotion/tenure considerations

How do I find resources that allow for cited reference searching?

Go to A-Z Database List, select Indexed from the All Database Types dropdown, see example .