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Searching CINAHL to Find Articles Written by Nurses

In 2009, CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, introduced two limiters to CINAHL Advanced Search, entitled “First Author is Nurse” and “Any Author is Nurse,” in an effort to aid in the search for journal articles written by nurses.  Applying these limits will narrow search results to articles written (from 2009 onwards) by authors with an RN, BSN, MSN or equivalent foreign credential (such as the British  “RGN” or “RMN”), as long as the credentials are listed in the article.  The 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 “Refine Your Results/Show More” on the search results page in CINAHL Advanced Search.  These limiters are not available in CINAHL Basic Search.

Although the 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 of finding articles with nurse authors, including the use of the CINAHL field “AF Author Affiliation,” which restricts a search to the institution of an author, as listed in the article.  To illustrate, entering “nursing” in the search box on the main search page of CINAHL Advanced Search and selecting the field “AF Author Affiliation” (located in the box with a drop-down menu 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” or “School of Nursing.”  Since a nurse author is more likely to work at a college of nursing, the “AF Author Affiliation” field, by narrowing search results to articles written by authors affiliated with colleges of nursing, can be a useful means of locating articles written by nurses.   Again, 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 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.

A final method of searching for articles written by nurses is to use the “Nursing” limiter found in the drop-down menu under “Journal Subset” on the limits page in either CINAHL Advanced Search or CINAHL Basic Search.  This limit will restrict search results to journals with a nursing focus.  One final note: using the “Nursing” limiter or the field “AF Author Affiliation” will limit search results to sources more likely to have a nurse author.  However, the user must still examine an article to check whether or not there are nursing credentials listed for the author, such as “Debra Davis RN, MSN, DSN.” Even using all of these methods, some nurse authors whose credentials are not listed either in the author section of the CINAHL citation or the full text or who publish in journals for a different or wider audience may not be identified.

For more information, contact Trey Lemley.

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