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Health and Social Care: Journals & Databases

Library subject guide for nursing, midwifery, AHPs, health and social care

Finding Research Based Evidence from Journals


Journals are an important part of your reading and evidence for assignments. This page explains what they are and when to use them.  It outlines how to search for journal articles using health care subject specific databases.

Journals are like magazines on a specific topic e.g Diabetes Nursing or Practising Midwife or Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. Issues appear regularly eg weekly, monthy or quarterly, so the information they contain is more up to date.

Each issue will contain a number of articles or papers on very specific topics within that one subject. There are different types of journal article (reviews, research,case studies, opinions etc). There are also different types of journal. Peer-reviewed journal articles are evaluated and critiqued by researchers and experts in the field before being published. They are high-quality sources of up to date information. The research or evidence from these peer reviewed journals allows us to change or improve the care we give to patients and clients.

Background facts and history about a clinical condition or care procedures can be gleaned from textbooks. However, current clinical practices relating to these topics should be located from more up to date, evidence-based sources, such as journal articles, clinical guidelines, best practice statements, systematic reviews. Ideally, these should have been published within the last five years, but this will often depend on the topic under investigation and the amount of research evidence currently available within that subject.

The most effective way of searching for academic journal articles is to use the subject based journal databases listed below. Health journal literature is vast and these databases have extremely effective search engines allowing us to focus down quickly to the information we need.

They work like Google - you enter appropriate keywords and search terms. However, they have much more advanced search facilities allowing you to combine keywords together to find exactly what you want and narrow down the number of results.

More importantly, these databases have direct links to Edinburgh Napier's electronic journals.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is the academic section of Google. It indexes a limited portion of scholarly material on the internet, including books and journals. It will not find everything but it can get you started

Link your Google Scholar results to the full text ejournals we purchase here at Edinburgh Napier. Our Google Scholar guide will show you how..


Journal Searching FAQs

FAQs on using databases for journal searching.

Q. How do I start ?

Look at the question you have to answer. Make a search plan  or strategy by writing down the keywords you need.  Now try entering them into the search boxes in your chosen database.   Try combining keywords together to get more specific results.  Wrong answers? - try different keywords or different combinations. Have you considered synonyms?  eg elderly or older or ageing;     learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities;      child or paediatric;       midwifery or obstetric ;    physiotherapy or physical therapy ;     occupational therapy or vocational rehabilitation ;   social work or social care      


Q.  Can I see someone do a search?

     Sure - have a look at this video Finding Evidence using CINAHL


Q.  Can I save my searches & results and come back to them later?

      Yes -  you can usually save them on the database website. Instructions on how to do this in EBSCO CINAHL are in this file.


Q. I have been asked to print out my database search strategy in my assignment. How do I do this?


Q.  The CINAHL database has "ready made" APA style references that I can use in my essay reference list. Where do I find these?

     Follow the instructions below


Q. I need to add web links for the articles in my reference lists. Where do I get these?

    Use the permalinks from  the EBSCO databases - these are links that never change and always point to your article.


Q. Full Text - how do I access the full text of an article I need?

        View the attached instructions.