The key to finding high quality evidence is to start with a good, specific clinical question or PICO, search a variety of resources, and appraise the evidence to ensure it can be used in patient care.
Use the resources below to begin searching and collecting evidence. Remember, there is no perfect search. You must try many terms in many resources to find the best evidence
Visit our Ask A Librarian page if you need assistance!
Top Databases to Search
- Health Sciences Databases
- Evidence-Based Practice Databases
- Other Helpful Databases
- Access Information
Health Sciences Databases
These databases contain varying levels of evidence. Ranging from expert opinions to systematic reviews and meta analyses, these health sciences databases are the best place to start your search. Most of the information in these databases has been peer-reviewed, but it has not been evaluated by experts to determine the strength of the evidence. This is called unfiltered information.
See the list of other health sciences databases.
Evidence-Based Practice Databases
These resources will generally provide higher levels of evidence because experts have collected, analyzed, and reported on the evidence for you. This is called filtered information.
Higher types of evidence include Systematic Reviews, Meta-Analyses, Guidelines, Critically Appraised Topics and more.
Many evidence-based practice groups publish their findings online.
Other Useful Databases
These databases are not focused on nursing, but they may also be useful depending on your topic. This information will also be unfiltered because it has not been appraised by experts.
Finding Related Articles
Does your topic relate to education, psychology, business, or another subject? Try searching resources from the complete list of databases by subject at UNC.
Guidelines (also known as clinical practice guidelines, practice guidelines, and CPG's) are high-level evidence because a group of experts has reviewed the existing evidence on a topic, graded the evidence, and made recommendations for how to implement the evidence in a clinical setting. Guidelines can be developed on the international, national, state, and local level by health organizations, hospitals, and other groups, but always check the quality and authorship to be sure it is trustworthy and can be used in patient care.
Check guideline sites
- National Guideline Clearinghouse (guideline.gov)
- TRIPdatabase.com (must limit to guidelines after searching)
Check databases by selecting "Guideline" or "Practice Guideline" from the Publication Type or Article Type limit and searching for part of your topic
Check the websites of trusted professional organizations (See the list of examples)
- Search the web for part of your topic (usually a specific disease, condition, or intervention) and "practice guideline" or "clinical guideline"
- Go to an organization's website and search on their site for guidelines they have posted
Many researchers do thorough studies in order to complete a dissertation or thesis, but these studies may not always be published later as journal articles. It is important to search for dissertations/theses on your topic, especially as these studies can help you as you are designing your research study.
- Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection at UNC (2006-present)
- Dissertations & Theses @ UNC Chapel Hill
- UNC's Catalog (pre-2006 dissertations and theses)
- Proquest Dissertations & Theses (1861-present)
Open Access Dissertations/Theses
Need more help? See the guide to Dissertations and Theses in Libraries of UNC-Chapel Hill
Our library catalog will aid you in finding books, kits, cd's, dvd's and more. The catalog is available from the HSL website or at http://search.lib.unc.edu. Books published before 1990 are in the library basement. Books published after 1990 are on the library's third floor.
For a quick guide to searching the catalog, visit our Finding Health Information guide.
If we don't have it:
1. Check the resources of our TRLN network using the Expand Your Search box on the right side of the catalog results page. Many times you can order your book from one of these libraries.
2. If TRLN doesn't have it, request it via the Interlibrary Loan website.
To get into UNC databases:
On Campus Access: Electronic resources are accessible on-campus. Faculty, students and staff must register personal laptops and mobile devices with UNC Chapel Hill ITS.
UNC Hospitals Access: Electronic resources are available via the Library website by logging in with your Onyen. Note: UpToDate is available within EPIC.
Off Campus Access: Access resources off-campus via the Library website by logging in with your Onyen. Most electronic resources are accessible off-campus to students, faculty, and staff, including UNC Hospitals' staff.
To get access to full articles:
Find @ UNC
Click on the button in database results to:
Other Helpful Guides