Document Type

White Paper

Original Publication Date



This handout is part of classes and webinars on searching databases like PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, and others.

Date of Submission

March 2024


This updated handout, previous version published in 2023, serves as a reference for individuals learning effective database search practices. It covers fundamental search principles, including Boolean operators, question types, and potential databases for various questions for assignments or in the clinical environment. Notably, this version incorporates a diagram illustrating the search process.

Remember, the search process is iterative, involving repeated cycles of refinement. Your approach will vary depending on the specific question you're trying to answer.

Update of Doing a Good Search: Basic Rules and Search Tips (2023)

The original version appeared in the following article:

McGrath, J. M., Brown, R. E., & Samra, H. A. (2012). Before you search the literature: how to prepare and get the most out of citation databases. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, 12(3), 162-170.

Is Part Of

VCU Libraries Faculty and Staff Publications