Skip to Main Content

NURS 216 Transition to Baccalaureate Nursing

Nursing Faculty: Sheryl Stuck, Spring Semester 2019

Nursing Competencies Annotated Bibliography: CINAHL Searching Tips

What is CINAHL?

  • CINAHL stands for Cumulated Index in Nursing and Allied Health Literature.
  • CINAHL provides coverage of nursing journals and publications from the National League for Nursing and the American Nurses' Association, including coverage of allied health disciplines.
  • CINAHL indexes over 5,000 journals and full-text coverage (i.e. entire articles are available) dating back to 1937. Also contains books/book chapters, dissertations, conference proceedings, standards of practice, educational software, and legal cases.


Accessing CINAHL: Use the Databases by Title link on the University of Akron Libraries' homepage to access CINAHL. You can also access CINAHL on this Course Guide.



Searching CINAHL
Once you have chosen your topic, on the search boxes, type your keywords or phrases that
describe your topic. A good library research topic usually contains 2-3 keywords. Look at the
example below for how keywords are combined using the operator AND.

1. On the search box, type the keywords to describe your topic. For example, informatics  AND competenc* AND nursing

adding the third keyword, competenc* is optional in the example above.
2. Click the SEARCH button
 to run the search.

It is best to narrow a search (i.e. apply limiters) AFTER reviewing the search results.

On the Results Page, try to limit your search results to "Scholarly (Peer  Reviewed) Journals" (if the limiter is available).  If this option is not available, click on the "Advanced Search" link at the top of the page.  On the Advanced Search page, check the limiters below: English Language and/or Peer-Reviewed.


3. Click the SEARCH button to run the search.
4. Use the limiters located on the left side of the Results page to refine your search results further.


Too MANY citations?

  • Consider limiting your search by Geography (i.e. limit the search to the U.S., English language)

  • Add more keywords to your search strategy or use more specific keywords. For example, use phrase searching to retrieve keywords in the exact order: "National Hospital Quality Measures"

  • Use subject headings. CINAHL subject headings are called "CINAHL Headings"  For example, use the subject heading for nursing informatics instead of searching by keyword.

  • Apply limiters--limit search by date, peer-reviewed publications, etc.

Too FEW citations?

  • Add related keywords/synonyms to your search strategy (e.g. informatics OR "nursing informatics"). Use the OR operator to search for related words/synonyms.

  • Use the truncation symbol (*) at the root of a keyword to retrieve variations.  For example: compet* will retrieve competencies, competence, competent, etc.

  • Consider searching multiple databases at once.  When searching CINAHL, click on the "Choose Databases" and select "all databases" box to search CINAHL and other databases simultaneously.  Duplicate citations are usually removed and this option will expand the number of citations retrieved. 

  • Pease contact us/Marilia at the UA Libraries for any questions.