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Nursing: Assignment & Resource Tips


Need research help and not sure where to turn? Get help from the library via email, chat, and online appointments or stop by one of our reference desks during open hours of operation. 

Want to contact your Nursing & Health Sciences Librarian or set up a virtual or F2F appointment with her? Email Debra Smith:

Nursing Resource Overview & Your Librarian Lifeline

The COD Library's electronic and print resources are designed to support all of your nursing education and practice needs.
As your "personal librarian," I'm here to help you find the best resources. Please reach out ( and set up an individual or small group appointment with me.
Begin your research early with guidance from me or Library reference staff!

HESI Books (Nursing Admission called the HESI A2, NCLEX-RN, or NCLEX-PN)

The Library has multiple copies of HESI A2 books in the HESI Course Reserve.

There are 3 different HESI items.

One is for the Nursing Admission Exam (specific name of that test is HESI A2.) Students take this exam in order to gain admittance into the ADN Program.  However, any nursing entrance exam test prep resource will work because they all test the same content: math, science, and verbal skills. In addition to the “official” entrance study guides, these more generic nursing exam prep books may be useful. In addition, ACT and SAT review books may be helpful in preparing for nursing admission exams.

The other two HESI books measure learning post program and indicates prep and readiness for either the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN. These books would be sought out by COD Nurses that want to get their PN licensure (after completing the first year of the 2-year ADN program) or their RN licensure upon completion of the 2-year ADN program.

Check the Library Catalog for HESI book availability and duration of check out.

NURSI 1230

Need help making your patient education trifold brochure?

The good news is that there are a lot of templates available to assist you in creating both trifold and bifold brochures.

Microsoft Office products (including Office 365, PowerPoint, Word, and Publisher) all have trifold (and bifold) brochure templates.

If you do a simple Google Search for trifold brochure templates a bunch of options will pop up including templates/directions for making them in Office products (mentioned above) as well as with Google Docs and more.

Need help getting started? You can always stop by the Library's Computing Support & Printing Services Desk (located on the main floor of the Library) or at either of the Library's Reference Desks (conveniently located on each floor of the Library) for some one-on-one assistance.

A great place to start looking for credible, patient-level, educational materials is

Tips on creating concept maps:

For video tutorials on creating nursing concept maps, go to YouTube and search for nursing concept maps. There are a lot of examples available! Here's one to get you started.

Nursing Concept Maps: How To Create Them For Nursing School (Mini-Training)


Concept maps are vital to your study success in nursing school. In this video we'll cover why concept maps are so important, the main categories you should include in each concept map you make during nursing school, and 4 specific questions to ask as you create your concept maps (to help you totally ROCK them).

If you're interested in text-based explanations, stick to Google, or your search engine of choice, and search for nursing concept maps.

Tailor your search terms to get the type of concept map information that you really need. For example, you might search for nursing concept map templates.  Another tip is to do an image search for nursing concept maps, nursing care plan concept maps, or you can even try to search for nursing concept maps on specific topics just to see what is out there (for example, search for nursing concept map hypertension). Concept maps are popular in nursing and many students and nurses have shared their creations online in a variety of formats.

Concept maps need to contain all the information in your assignment rubric, but how you choose to display that material is up to you and your personal style/preference. Just remember that the visual map needs to be clear and understandable to not just you, but also to your intended audience.

APA Assistance

Check out all the useful APA resources described and linked from the Research Toolkit (blue, left-hand navigation link on this Nursing Research guide)

You may also benefit from reviewing my handout: Sample Nursing APA 7th ed. References

  • The handout covers how to cite a chapter or section of an edited book (often your course texts). For additional examples, see what APA Style has to say

Remember that you can always seek APA citation assistance from Library reference staff as well as the WRSA coaches in the Learning Commons!

NURSI 2120

For this research paper, you will need to get a lot of the information from your patient history (and if you didn't get all the information you needed, check with your instructor. They may be able to pull up a patient's record and supplement your history/notes).

From the patient history, you will select the primary disease/condition and/or surgical procedure (sometimes it is just a disease or condition, but if your patient had a surgical procedure, you may need to research not only for the disease/condition but also for the procedure.

Also, a lot of the pathophysiology and background on your patient's disease/condition, and/or surgical procedure as well as many other nursing aspects of caring for patients with the disease (or recovering from a surgical procedure) can be found in your course textbook as well as in a nursing handbooks or manuals such as your required Ackley text (Nursing Diagnosis Handbook) or  Davis's Diseases & Disorders  or Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice (these last two are available from the Library in both print and e-book format).

  • Both Davis's and Lippincott Manual are linked off the COD Nursing research guide on both the "books" and the "ebook" pages. Look for the book's image (scroll down those pages) and click on it to be taken to the item record in our catalog.
  • You can fill in a LOT of the rubric from these types of books. Then, you need to complete the journal portion of the paper.

You don't just need three nursing journal articles, two of them must be research articles.

  • DO remember to set the following limiters: publication date (last five years), peer-reviewed, English, Journal subset: NURSING
    • Based on your patient's history, you may choose to limit your search results to specific age group(s), gender, or ethnicity, if any of these are relevant.
  • Don't limit to research articles as there are many types of research articles (controlled trial, double-blind, etc). Instead, look carefully at citation results. The type of article will be listed in parentheses after the basic citation information. You want the article type description to include the word "research" (and it will often say "research, tables & charts").
  • Here is an example of a CINAHL citation. The article description mentioned above is highlighted  in blue:

Effects of early mobilization on pulmonary parameters and complications post coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Academic Journal
(includes  abstract) Esmealy, Leyla; Allahbakhshian, Atefeh; Gholizadeh, Leila;  Khalili, Azizeh Farshbaf; Sarbakhsh, Parvin Applied Nursing Research, Feb2023; 69 N.PAG-N.PAG. 1p. (Article - research, randomized controlled trial) ISSN: 0897-1897

Does your article need to have a nurse as the first author?

Some assignments have this requirement. If so, DO NOT use the CINAHL limiter for 1st author is nurse. Why? Because most articles in nursing journals are written by nurses. The limiter may exclude more good articles than it includes.

Instead, limit to the journal subset nursing and then actually look at the articles to see if the author's credentials are provided (they usually are OR the article will list the author's affiliation and that usually indicates a nursing faculty member or nurse). It takes some critical thinking and careful checking to make the 1st author is nurse determination. You may have to copy the first author's name and paste it into Google along with any other information you have (such as where the author works if that is provided in the article). You can often confirm education/degrees and profession via personal or organization web pages.

NURSI 2130

Before you begin researching your questions in CINAHL, it is important to identify all of the key words or phrases in your question. You will need to perform more than one CINAHL search to locate all of the information necessary to answer your assigned question(s). You may also need to combine searches utilizing the search history feature of CINAHL. Don't hesitate to seek help from reference staff or your NHS Librarian!

Review the CINAHL Search Tips page of the COD Library's Nursing Research Guide

Search Tips:

  • Utlilze CINAHL subject headings (controlled vocabulary) not only to help you identify the right word or phrase for a concept, but also know that searching CINAHL subject headings also retrieves articles using identified synonyms! (e.g. searching the CINAHL Subject Heading "myocardial infarction" also will retrieve articles using the terms heart attack, heart attacks, myocardial infarctions)
  • Searching for the keyword "epigenetics" won't yield as many results as if you search for CINAHL subject headings. You'll find that epigenetics maps to the subject heading Epigenomics. Another possible subject heading is "Genetics Nursing"
    • Look at the scope notes to see definitions of subject headings. Also, at the bottom of the subheadings list (in the blue area), there is often a "Used For:" section where you'll see a listing of synonyms (key words and phrases) that can be helpful
  • CINAHL utilizes the subject heading "affective disorders" to represent mood disorders BUT, if you look at the scope note for affective disorders, it says, "Long-standing mood disturbances with no psychotic features. General only; prefer specifics." That means it is better to search for specific mood disorders (e.g. depression, bipolar, anxiety) instead of the more general terms "mood disorders" or "affective disorders"
  • When you want to combine CINAHL subject headings with keywords, remember to uncheck the "suggest subject headings box"

NURSI 2320

Struggling with PICO? Here are two excellent online tutorials:
Ethics Paper Tips

Use CINAHL to research your ethics topic because:

  • CINAHL subject headings help you locate more relevant articles.
    • For example, the keyword phrase "withdrawal of care" will map to the CINAHL subject heading "euthanasia, passive"
    • Recall that CINAHL subheadings include: ethical issues
  • CINAHL Limiters include: peer-reviewed, publication date, type of article (case study, research article, etc), and journal subset NURSING
    • HINT: limiting to case study is not always necessary because many nursing articles contain case studies. Nurses LOVE to teach with examples and case studies are often the examples used! Take the time to review your results and you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of nursing articles (that are not listed as being case studies) do, in fact, contain case studies
  • CINAHL allows limiting results to geographical area
    • This limiter is useful when you want to only retrieve nursing articles from the US, for example, but when researching ethical issues, you may not wish to set this limiter. Ethical issues like withdrawal of care, right to refuse treatment, or privacy/confidentiality are relevant no matter where nurses reside. The only thing to take into consideration are the individual laws/regulations of specific places.
  • CINAHL results not showing a case study or article with an embedded case study within the 5 year limit?
    • If there truly isn't a case study within 5 years and you've thoroughly looked through results, widen the date range to 10 years. If an appropriate case study is found outside the 5 year rule, bring it to your instructor and outline your critical thinking and research process with justifications as to why you should be able to use it. Instructors do grant approval IF you show critical thinking and evaluation skills and ask for permission prior to submitting the paper. This too is part of your concept-based learning process. Don't be afraid to  think critically and communicate with your instructors instead of hitting a dead end and giving up. When real nurses "give up" and don't utilize their team members (in this case instructors and your health librarian are your team), patients can suffer. Asking for help is necessary for success.
  • Still struggling? Contact your librarian, Debra Smith:

NURSI 2330

Use Debra's helpful handouts (linked below) to assist you with you discussion board post APA citations as well as with your Nurse Sensitive Indicators Poster/Presentation:

Remember to utilize the APA resources included in the Research Toolkit section of this research guide (see blue, right-hand navigation bar). offers a wide variety of helpful resources. Under the Instructional Aids section of APA's  website, you'll find handouts, checklists as well as Sample APA Student Paper Templates (in Word format).

In-text citation TIP:

In-text citation is covered in Chapter 8 of the APA Style Manual, Seventh Edition.

For online in-text citation examples, see:

Note that most COD nursing instructors prefer that you use all three in-text citation elements when summarizing just as you are required to do for direct quotes. Instructors want to quickly and easily locate the passage(s) that you are paraphrasing. When in doubt, check with your instructor! example: (Evans, 2019, p. 498)

In addition to the handout, make sure to look at the CINAHL Search Tips section of this research guide (blue, right-hand navigation bar) where you will find more tips and short "help" videos on utilizing CINAHL.

As with all of your research projects, begin your research early.

  • The earlier you identify your resources, the more time you will have to inter-library loan articles that the COD Library doesn't have in full text (this can take 3-5 days).
  • Also, you may need time to consult your instructor about whether or not an article is acceptable for a given assignment.
  • The longer you wait, the less time reference staff at the Library and your instructor have to help you because we can't change the amount of time an inter-library loan takes, nor can we rush the search process (it takes time and careful thought/critical thinking).
  • Waiting to the last minute to consult your instructor about the suitability of an article gives you little to no time to find an alternative if necessary.
  •  Do us all a favor and give yourself time to research properly. Your grades will be higher, Library staff and your instructor can assist you properly, AND your future patients will benefit from your ability to perform thorough EBP and EBM research.
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  • Last Updated: Jun 12, 2024 9:15 AM
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