Skip to Main Content

Nursing and Allied Health: Peer Reviewed Literature: Assessment Goals

Online Learning

Welcome to the NSU CON-SAH Library


PICOT, PICOT - By any other name?

PICO or PICOT:  What is in a name?


You call it PICO, I call it PICOT!

See:  Asking the PICOT Question to Ask, Appraise and Acquire Research Articles

Students should understand and be able to give examples of each part of the PICO(T) question and fill in a chart before searching.

  • Describe what PICO or PICOT means
  • Provide an example of: Patient, Population, Problem or ___
  • Provide an example of an intervention such as a therapy, treatment, lab report or preventative measure for a disease that can identify, cure or prevent a disease
  • Provide an example of treating a patient versus not treating a patient
  • Describe a side effect, harm or negative impact to a patient
  • Describe the suspected outcome

Forming a Search Strategy.

Finding Peer Reviewed Literature


After participating in the Peer Reviewed Literature Power Point training online, students should be able to:

Peer Review

  • Understand what a peer expert is
  • Describe the peer-review process
  • Differentiate peer- from blind peer-review
  • Recognize the Peer-review filter (box) and understand apply it in CINAHL, ProQuest, OVID, Medline
  • Identify peer-reviewed nursing articles in an Open Access Database  (Directory of Open Access Journals)

Such a MeSHy World

Words can have ambiguous meanings. Use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

This is especially true in a natural language query such like Google searching or Googling.  Using words that have multiple meanings gives mixed search results. 

"Did the duck cross the road or did the man duck under the table?" 


Enter the term gestational diabetes in the search box.  CINAHL shows you the correct or preferred term you must use.


Check the box to the left of the preferred term and choose major heading.

The MeSH Browser


Searching in the MeSH Tree


 The MeSH Tree, like the CINAHL Medical Subject Heading Index, shows you a hierarchy of terms to choose from.


Search Google using:  MeSH Browser (book mark this link)


Search the MeSH Browser to the MeSH TREE show: Gestational Diabetes  This term appears in 3 trees:  In the MeSH Browser page click on the first tree:  C13.703.170. 

What is the preferred MeSH concept for gestational diabetes?


Pasting a term into the PubMed Advanced Search Box


In the PubMed Advanced search, we paste the term we copied into the advanced search box and choose the AND connector choice.


Assessment: Finding Peer Reviewed Literature

Searching CINAHL and PubMed:  Finding Peer Reviewed Literature Using Major Mesh Headings (MM)


This online class session, "Finding Peer Reviewed Literature" is an introductory session that provides students with the basics of searching. CINAHL and PubMed. Students learn how to set up their MyFolder account in CINAHL and their MyNCBI accout in PubMed.


A Smorgasbord of Results


Students Learn the Advantages of Each Database System

Learning about the CINAHL Major Mesh Headings and how to use the Search History function is relatively easy for the novice searcher to grasp.  These features, and using the "MyFolder Account" are the major benefits of the CINAHL database platform. 

Once students have obtained a large result set, there are very few ways to remove unwanted article types, such as qualitative and quantitative research, clinical trials and randomized trials.  This is one of the weaknesses of the CINAHL database platform.  There are 81 types of literature in CINAHL.  Only 11 types of literature are pertinent to most undergraduate research.  Since undergraduate students are not expected to perform deep qualitative and quantitative research which is the backbone of Clinical Trials, Randomized Trials and the Cochrane Database, these results must be removed.

Using Preferred Terms


Preferred terms provide more dependable results

The current generation of students has grown up with Google (and McDonalds).  Google is a natural language query and results are returned in an order called "Relevancy Ranking".  Items with the most common terms are at the top of the list -- after paid advertising.  The results include both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed articles, letters, blogs, newsletters, etc.  It is difficult to quickly identify "Peer Reviewed" Literature.


Students use CINAHL Headings to find the preferred term and use the "Focused Search" technique. The focused search technique limits the search only to articles where the Major CINAHL preferred heading is in the subject line below the abstract.  

We first work through examples in CINAHL, where they learn about preferred terms.  Then work through examples in PubMed with knowledge we learned in CINAHL, 

During our searches in CINAHL, we reveal the search history so that students can tick the search boxes.  Students use the connector boxes to join or combine their searches. They use command language searching with the connector NOT (similar to PubMed). In search history, the student learns how to reformulate their search if they have no results.

Following these steps, we apply limiters or filters to the search, beginning with the date filter.  The date filter is applied separately to test the query and find out if there is current literature on the subject.  Then we use the advanced filters page below the date bar and apply other filters:  peer review, english language, human, etc. 


Removing irrelevant or inappropriate results


I show the undergraduate students how to remove large groups of articles in CINAHL that may not be relevant to their search:  Clinical Trials, Randomized Trials, Cochrane Reviews.  These articles are normally qualitative and quantitative research articles.

Lastly, we repeat the same searches in PubMed searching the Major MeSH Headings.


Upon completion of the basic class: students should be able to demonstrate each of the following:

  • Differentiate between Major Mesh Headings and keywords and explain why a searcher would get different results using each method.
  • Explain the advantage of using Major Mesh Heading (MH) in CINAH to focus a search
  • Demonstrate how to find preferred MeSH term using either CINAHL or using the Mesh Browser
  • Understand when to use keywords (not Major Mesh Headings) in CINAHL
  • Demonstrate how to search the PubMed Index using a key word
  • Demonstrate the use of connectors AND, OR, NOT to join queries
  • Describe how to use the search history in CINAHL
  • Demonstrate the use of filters (also known as limiters) in CINAHL and PubMed
  • Student can print an article, export abstract(s) or email an article to his-self / herself
  • Student can set up an account in CINAHL (EBSCO)
  • Student can set up an NCBI account
  • Student can set up custom document filters within a NCBI account
  • Student can save articles to an EBSCO folder or NCBI Dashboard
  • Student can demonstrate saving a search or creating an alert
  • Student can print or save the search history and attach the history to a research request
  • Student ccan demonstrate how to apply filters in PubMed; how to apply filters in CINAHL
  • Student is familiar with the Interlibrary Loan Form link.
  • Student is familiar with the Library Contacts page
  • Student can demonstrate signing in to databases from off campus



Thank you for visiting our Libraries!

Visit Our Libraries

Northwestern State University of Louisiana Libraries    |   Watson Memorial Library   |  913 University Pkwy    | Natchitoches LA 71457

  |    Shreveport Education Center Library   |Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library    |    NSU Leesville Library 

   |  Prince Music Media Library