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Created by Kathryn Spiegel RN PhD. There is no conflict of interest in the creation of this education program. How to do a. Literature Review. Research Committee Module #2 1 CNE Available. Objectives. Explain the rationale for a literature review

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How to do a

Created by Kathryn Spiegel RN PhD

There is no conflict of interest in the creation of this education program.

How to do a

Literature Review

Research Committee Module #2

1 CNE Available



  • Explain the rationale for a literature review

  • Review the scope of the literature review

  • Discuss the types of literature included in a comprehensive review

  • Demonstrate knowledge of web-based resources for nephrology nursing research



  • Brings the researcher up to date with information on a specific topics

  • Forms the basis of justification for future research in the area of interest

  • Seeks to describe, summarize, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports

Reasons for conducting a literature review

Reasons for Conducting a Literature Review

  • Presents a theoretical framework

  • Provides a bibliography, analytical and critical appraisal of current literature

  • Refines, improves and adds to the body of knowledge

  • Informs and lends support to the researcher’s assumptions, definitions

  • Reviews previous scholarly and scientific work

Wilson, H.S. (1992). Introduction to nursing research (2nd ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.

Types of literature

Types of Literature

  • Relevant nursing research

  • Theoretical literature

  • General and specialty nursing literature

  • Methodological literature

  • Research literature from other disciplines

  • Popular literature

Wilson, H.S. (1992). Introduction to nursing research (2nd ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.



  • Books

  • Periodicals(journals, magazines and newspapers)

  • Popular magazines

  • Trade journals

  • Scholarly journals

  • Medical libraries

Electronic resources

Electronic Resources

  • Software programs (RSS Feeds)

  • Databases (CINAHL®)

  • Popular (Google) and scientific (PubMed) search engines

  • Metasearch engines (Dogpile)

Boolean operators

Boolean Operators


  • Used to facilitate a review of the literature

  • Search is narrowed to those records that contain each chosen keyword

  • Common operators include:

    • AND

    • OR

    • NOT

Boolean operators1


Term B


Term A


Search A AND B = C

Boolean Operators


Boolean operators2


Term A


Term B

Boolean Operators


Search A OR B broadens the search by searching for

alternate terms, synonyms and related concepts

Boolean operators3


Term B


Term A


Boolean Operators


Eliminates records which have an

unwanted keyword in them

Software programs

Software Programs

  • RSS Feeds:  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  RSS readers are software programs that collect, organize and display RSS feeds.  RSS readers allow users to scan headings from a multitude of journals or news sites. The benefit of RSS is that content from multiple Web sources is aggregated in one place.  RSS readers can be desk-top based or web-based (Note - web-based readers require no download).  

  • Some user-friendly web-based readers are Google Reader, NetVibes, and FeedBucket.

Database systems

Database Systems


  • Nursing and allied health literature

  • Covers approximately 330 nursing and allied health journal references

  • Includes information on the title, author, journal, volume number, issue number, page numbers, date of issue, descriptors that indicate the type of article (i.e., research), and number of references.

Search engines

Search Engines

Search engines: An internet program that searches for documents for specified keywords and returns a list where these keywords are found

  • Dogpile


  • PubMed




Basic steps to access:

  • Identify the key concepts of the research question.

  • Enter the significant terms into the search box.

  • Press the “Enter” key or click “Go.”

National Institutes of Health (2007). National Library of Medicine.




Information access:

  • Date (or range of dates)

  • Journal title

  • Author

  • Key words

National Institutes of Health (2007). National Library of Medicine.Retrieved from

Pubmed limits feature

PubMed Limits Feature

Allows for more specific searches using ranges within categories

- Full text or free full text- Age group

- Gender- Human or animal studies

- Languages- Publication types

- Dates- Journal groups

- Topics

How to do a

Limits tab

Preview / Index tab

History tab



Preview index tab

Preview/Index Tab

Used to determine the number of articles available on a particular topic

SearchMost Recent Queries TimeResult

#2Search anemia13:34:23141371

#1Search dialysis13:34:05111628

History tab

History Tab

  • Previous searches can be combined or used in subsequent searches by using the History tab.

  • All search queries can be located under the History tab. The query list is erased after eight hours.

Clipboard tab

Clipboard Tab

  • Clipboard is a storage page for collecting selected citations from one or several searches.

  • Clipboard is lost after eight hours of inactivity on PubMed or any of the other databases.

Clipboard tab1

Clipboard Tab

  • The following process is used to add citations to the Clipboard:

    • In the search results, use the citation check boxes to select citations. To save all citations do not click any check boxes

      • From the Send to menu, select Clipboard

      • To view the selections, click the Clipboard tab

Using boolean operators

Using Boolean Operators

When using Boolean operators it is not necessary to order the concepts, the number of hits will be the same:

Search Most

Recent Queries Time Result

#2Search anemia

AND dialysis 13:34:23 4926

#1Search dialysis

AND anemia 13:34:05 4926

Using boolean operators1

Using Boolean Operators

Searching for phrases using keywords and


Search Most

Recent Queries Time Result

#2 Search “Iron deficiencyanemia in dialysis patients” 13:34:23 246

#1 Search“iron deficiency anemia” 13:34:056170

Using the feature

Using the “+” Feature

  • “+"Dialysis" Outcomes: search will retrieve all documents containing the words Dialysis, but no documents that contain only the word Outcomes

  • Documents containing Outcomes must also contain Dialysis to be retrieved

Using a wildcard

Using a Wildcard

An “*” is the symbol for a Wildcard

  • Allows for a search of words with variations in spelling by using the * after the first 3 letters of the word

  • Following a keyword with an asterisk (*) will search for the keyword and various suffixes

  • For a prefix, at least three letters of the keyword are necessary before using an *

Using the operator not

Using the Operator NOT

  • Using the word "NOT" or a "-" before a keyword will exclude any document containing that term

  • For example: NOT cultural diversity will retrieve all documents containing the word diversity, but from these documents it will exclude all the results that contain the phrase cultural

Using the limits feature example

Using the Limits Feature: Example

Research Question:

“Does a patient’s cultural background influence adherence to dialysis therapy?”

How to do a

111,628 listings 5528 pages

Bolded words are key words in this search

Key word may give results on laboratory data

culture AND dialysis

2827 listings 528 pages

culture AND dialysis AND adherence

Specifically address the sociological effect of one’s culture on the dialysis experience

14 listings 1 page

Research Question

“Does a patient’s cultural backgroundinfluence adherence to dialysis therapy?”



  • The literature search is one of the most important steps in the research process.

  • A comprehensive review provides education of and validation for the research and the writing of scientific publications.



Cooper, H.M. (1989). Integrating research: A guide for literature reviews (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

National Institutes of Health. (2007). National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from the web site

Nieswiadomy, R.M. (1993). Foundations of nursing research (2nd ed.). Norwalk, CT: Appleton and Lange.



United States Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from the web site

Wilson, H.S. (1992). Introduction to nursing research (2nd ed). Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.

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