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Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing, Centre for Professional Nursing Education

Profile V2


This guide has been created to supplement Information Literacy and Evidence-Informed Practice Library instruction for students in NURS 270. 


PI(C)O is an acronym that stands for: Patient (or Population), Intervention, Comparison, Outcome.

PI(C)O is a technique used in evidence based practice to:

  • Frame answerable questions from a clinical scenario
  • Identify key elements in the question
  • Structure database searches

VIDEO: Using PICO to turn a clinical scenario into an effective search (3:55)

PI(C)O Templates

Types of Research in Nursing

Tools for Defining Types of Research Articles

Basic definition of Nursing Research: Nursing research should involve nurse researchers, have implications for nursing, and is often (but not always) published in nursing journals. Nursing research contributes to Nursing Knowledge and advances the Discipline of Nursing.

What is a subject heading, and how will it help my search?


What is a Subject Heading?

  • Subject headings are assigned words or phrases that make a database easier to search.  It draws possible terms for a topic under one word or phrase, so a searcher does not have to guess at all of the words used to describe a topic.
  • Subject headings can also be called descriptors, thesaurus entries, subject terms or controlled vocabulary.
  • They may also have a proprietary name, such as MeSH (Medical Subject heading), CINAHL Headings, or LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Heading).

Where do I find for Subject Headings?

  • Almost every database has some kind of controlled vocabulary.  When searching in a database, look for a link on the home page that says thesaurus, headings or index. You can use this link to search for specific subject headings.
  • You can also find subject headings by performing a keyword search and then looking at the subject headings in the record of relevant articles.
  • Remember that subject headings can differ from database to database.  Don’t assume that what works great in one database will work well in another!

Keywords and Subject Headings – there is a difference!

  • Searching by subject headings is often the most effective and precise way to search a database.  However, there are times when a keyword search is useful, too.  Each type of searching is appropriate at different times and for different searches. 
  • You can also use Subject Headings in your keyword search! This is an effective way of expanding your search to retrieve more results pertaining to your topic. 

Learn more about finding & using subject headings with our Library video tutorials:

Topics include:



Wondering what databases to try after CINAHL?

Sometimes you need to expand your search beyond the basics.  These databases may supplement the nursing research you have found in CINAHL. Check out subject guides such as psychology, social work or sociology for more ideas.

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