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Nursing Research Guide: Orientation


Welcome nursing students! This page is designed to give you an overview of the resources available to you at the library. Please feel free to contact Robert Krzanowski, Nursing Librarian, at with any questions you have about nursing research or citations. You may also contact the reference desk directly at or utilize the library's chat service during normal operating hours.

Citing sources

You are required to use the 7th edition of APA to format your papers and cite your sources. CCC's APA guide to documenting sources provides templates and citation examples for the resources most commonly used by students. Please also see the APA guide to citing health sources, which was developed specifically for nursing and physical therapy assistant assignments. The tutorial also provides a walkthrough of NoodleBib, which is a citation tool that provides templates for every source type and exports APA References list after students have entered the necessary bibliographic information. NoodleBib is not an error-checking tool, so be sure to enter your information carefully.

Librarians will review your citations for you! Simply bring a finalized copy of your references to the reference desk or e-mail it as a Word attachment to (we aim for a 24-hour max turnaround). We will only review final drafts. Citations that have little or no formatting (e.g. italics, quotation marks), are obviously copied and pasted from databases, are substantially lacking in bibliographic information, or contain major formatting issues will be returned without comment. Please see our citation policy for more information.


NoodleBib is a tool that allows students to automatically generate APA references using fillable forms. Students can select a template, type the relevant information into the system's fields (be sure to reference our APA sheets beforehand), and export a properly formatted APA References list. Please see our NoodleBib tutorial to learn how to use the system's features. To create an account, click on Register, enter the college ID and password (carrollcc, library), and complete the form. After that, you can click on green "New Project" button, name and create the project, select your citation style and citation level (select Advanced!).

Once within your project, you can click on the green "New Source" button to begin building a citation. You must enter in the bibliographic information correctly (e.g. capitalization is correct, the right data is pasted into the right fields) in order to export correct citations. Please contact a librarian if you have any issues!

Microsoft Word

1. Please use the APA template for nursing students when creating your assignments. Insert your unique information into the placeholder headings on the title page. Replace the title heading on the second page with your paper title. Be sure to include a separate References page at the end of your assignment, with the heading centered and bolded at the top of the page.

2. Do not copy and paste content directly from other sources into a Word document, as this can negatively affect your paper formatting. Instead, you should right-click where you want to paste your text, find the heading for Paste Options, and select the option Keep Text Only (the icon in Word 2016). This will paste your text with the same formatting you are currently using in your Microsoft Word document.

3. Copying and pasting images can similarly corrupt your document. Using Word's insertion function will prevent such errors. Determine where on the page you want to insert your image and type text above and below it. Save the image to your computer, go to the Insert tab in Word, click on the Pictures drop-down icon, select This Device, and choose your image. Once the image is uploaded, click on its small Layout icon (Microsoft Word's layout icon) and select the first option (Square) under the With Text Wrapping heading (Microsoft Word's Square "With Text Wrapping" icon). Your text should now appear above and beside your image. If you have an image that spans the full width of the Word document, simply use the Insert function when appropriate and continue typing below it as usual.

4. You may want to bookmark this web page showing keyboard shortcuts for common special characters.

5. Use the "Undo Typing" function (Microsoft Word Unto Typing icon or Ctrl-Z) to remove any accidental typing or formatting errors.

Helpful programs/apps/extensions

NCLEX-RN Mastery - 2,000+ practice questions, quizzes, mnemonics and strategies 

NoodleBib - APA citation generator

Picmonic - Study aid featuring quiz questions and mnemonic videos

Quizlet - App that aids learning through digital flashcards and games

Unpaywall - Chrome extension that searches the internet for free full-text copies of scholarly articles. You are still required to learn how to retrieve scholarly journals from library databases.

Don't use Wikipedia, use reference sources!

Your assignments may require you to define a medical or nursing term. Students typically type the term into Google, which leads to results of widely varying quality. The book collections listed below feature high-quality and authoritative dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference sources, and you should consult them when asked for definitions or other basic medical information.

Peer-reviewed databases

Please read page 2 of our Evaluating Information Sources sheet for information about the differences between scholarly and popular articles. It is essential that you understand this difference in order to successfully complete your assignments.

Many of your assignments will require the use of scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources. Peer review is a process whereby subject experts evaluate and article's accuracy and suitability for publication. These articles are written by experts, for experts, use highly specific language unique to their field, and focus on original research and statistical analysis. See the following link for an example of a scholarly nursing article available through Academic Search Premier. You are generally required to use articles published within the last 5 years, but see individual assignments for specific instructions, as you may occasionally be able to cite historical articles. In general, you should restrict your searches for scholarly articles to the databases listed below:

To search for a particular journal across all library databases, use the E-Journal Finder, which searches all of our holdings and returns direct database journal links.

Web searches

You are permitted to use web sources for certain assignments. Please confirm when this is appropriate with your instructor. If your instructor requires an article from a database, do not use Google or any other search engine. See the "Peer-reviewed databases" box for more information on finding scholarly articles in library databases. You should only use the tips below when your instructor specifically permits web sources.

1. The Websites tab of the Nursing Guide lists many helpful resources, such as PubMed (the government's medical information repository), the CDC, and AHRQ.

2. Use domain limiters (.com, .gov, .edu, etc...) to increase your chances of finding authoritative information. You can limit your domain by typing    site:[enter domain here] after your search. For example, to find articles published on government web pages about diabetes, you would type   diabetes into Google. A search for diabetes without the domain limiter returns nearly three times as many results.

3. Unless instructed otherwise, you should generally aim to find information published within the last 5 years for health topics, although your instructors may grant exceptions for certain topics. Using Google's date limiter will assure that you avoid results that are too old to be helpful. Under the search bar on the right hand side, click on the Tools drop-down menu. Two new drop down menus will appear beneath the search bar on the left hand size. Click on the "Any Time" menu, select "Custom Range" and enter your beginning and end date. Narrowing the diabetes search to the last 5 years returns only 70 results as of 4/24/2023.

Finding books

Use the library's Books & Media Catalog to find books, ebooks, streaming videos, and audiovisual materials. While the catalog defaults to searching CCC titles only, you may also search the holdings of McDaniel College and the Carroll County Public Library by changing the "Limit By" option from "Carroll Community College Titles only" to "All formats." See our catalog tutorial for more information on searching this resource. Off-campus users should consult our ebook collections.

Career and biographical resources

Biographical and historical resources - This guide will help you complete your nursing biography assignment

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nurses - Comprehensive document from the federal government that offers an overview of the profession as well as pay and employment prospects.

The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health - Comprehensive 2011 document projecting how the nursing profession will change in the coming years.

Johnson & Johnson: Nursing specialties - Detailed information on a number of specialized nursing careers.

Maryland Board of Nursing: Education - Information on Maryland nursing programs and educational requirements for certification.

Nurseslabs - Nursing care plans

The State of Nursing 2016 - Comprehensive document covering the current state of nursing, education requirements, nursing specialties, and the future of the profession.