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NU 602 Library Research Module

Getting Started


In the first week of class, you started to think about your Clinical Practice Question and PICO(T) for the Evidence-Based Research Project. Elements of the PICO(T) will help you decide on what keywords to use when searching in the library databases and open web resources you learned about in the previous section. It is not an ideal strategy to just type your question into the databases or search engines, so take a second to break down your question into its component parts. 


In the Intensive Care Unit (P), how does structured visitation (I) compared to an open visitation policy (C) affect patient safety and nursing, familial, and patient satisfaction (O) during their hospital stay (T)? 

Keywords: visitation policy, hospital, patient safety, patient satisfaction, intensive care

Please note that not all the terms of your PICO(T) question need to be used in a search. Sometimes it's a good idea to start broad with a search and then add elements to make it more specific. If you start too specific at first, you might get limited results. 

Keep in mind that there can be many ways to describe the same thing. When using your PICO(T) question to think of keywords, also think of synonyms and related terms. Depending on where you search, you may need to use specific terminology.


Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

If you are ever asked to record inclusion and exclusion criteria for a research assignment, then remember that inclusion criteria are everything that must be present in an article to make it eligible for inclusion as part of your research. Exclusion criteria are the elements in an article that disqualify it from being included as part of your search.

They sound similar to the search limits, but they are not the exact same. Search limits are the specific limits that you set using the available options in a database or search engine, like Peer-Reviewed search results only, the publication date range, full-text articles only, etc.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria are criteria that you personally decide on and set before you begin to search. They will often overlap with search limits – for example, you can choose to exclude any articles that are older than five years, and you can also easily limit your search results in a database to only articles that were published in the last five years.


Trial-By-Error Process

When beginning research on a new topic, it's helpful to keep in mind that database searching, more than anything else, is essentially a trial-by-error process through which you try different combinations of search terms to explore the published scholarly literature. It's not uncommon need to try several search term combinations before you start to discover research articles relevant to your research topic. Likewise, it's not uncommon to thoroughly research across the databases and discover that there actually is a literature gap on the specifics that you are searching for, and that you may need to change your topic accordingly. 

Finally, as part of this trial-by-error research process, don't forget that you can always reach out to your Sacred Heart librarians for assistance whenever you'd like.