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CINAHL: Refining your search

Re-sorting and refining your search results

Re-sorting your search results: these should appear in order of those that are 'most relevant; but you can change this to appear order by date (starting with the most recently added). To do this, click the 'relevance' option just above your results and select 'date newest'. 

Retrieving only a few results? Return to the search boxes at the top of the screen. Consider whether there are any further alternative keywords that could be added. Also consider whether any of the concepts that you originally identified are of only marginal relevance to your research - if so, remove the associated set(s) of keywords. 

Retrieving too many irrelevant results? Return to the search boxes at the top of the screen. Consider whether any individual keywords are of only marginal relevance – if so, remove these and try another search. Also consider whether a further concept needs to appear in each search result. If so, add another search box and enter the concept's associated keyword(s). The database's filter options can also help you refine your results (read the next section).

Filter options

Business Source Complete: part of refine options column.Options for refining your results appear to the left of your results. These enable you to refine your results by various criteria including source type (academic journal, report, book and others) and population groups (defined by age groups and gender).

Scroll down to Subject: Major Heading. This displays terms added by individuals working for the database who read the articles being indexed. They then identify thesaurus terms that best reflect the content and add these terms to the articles' CINAHL records.

You might want to select the peer-reviewed filter if you forgot to do previously in your initial search.

Filters: further advice

  • Filters enable you to discover the range of different aspects that have been written on a topic, and in doing so, you may identify potential gaps in the literature. This can help researchers refine the scope of their dissertation/thesis research questions.
  • Be cautious: filtered searches might not identify every document written on a topic area. That said, if you're retrieving an unmanageable number of irrelevant results, using filters might be helpful (at least for an initial speculative search). 
  • The geography filter does not accurately identify results relating to a specific country or continent (it can also identify publisher locations).

Combining sets of search results

Business Source Complete: Search History linkYou can run separate searches, each on a different theme, and then combine the sets of results. 

To do this, go the search history section which appears just below the search boxes. Here you will find a list of each of your searches (from your current search session).

Select/tick the box next to each search that needs to be combined. Then select one of the following options:

  • AND: enter this if you want to narrow your final search results to those that appear in each set of results that you're combining. 
  • OR: enter this if you want to retrieve one long list of all your search results from across all of the sets of results.