- The method you use to locate research articles will vary depending on the database you are searching.
- Options are summarized below for a few of the primary databases in the health sciences and related disciplines.
CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)
The CINAHL database provides an option to limit your search results to research articles.
- 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. Some alternative methods for identifying research articles in these databases are summarized below.
- Browse your retrieval and look for structured abstracts. Although every research article does not use a structured abstract and some non-research articles will use a similar format, looking for these elements in your retrieval is a good visual cue that you may want to take a closer look at the article. Here is an example of a structured abstract from PubMed.
- 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.