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Nursing and Health Sciences Subject Guide

Learn about key library resources for studying health sciences

What is a database?

A Library database typically include scholarly journal articles, popular magazine articles and newspapers, books, and videos. The content of a research database is also reviewed and updated regularly.  Library databases cannot be accessed through search engines or the open web. Many resources require a University of Dundee logon.

Search engines such as Google searches for results across the internet, including websites. Most information found through a search engine is free.

Search engine searches tend to be keyword/question and on broad topics. Database searches have more functionality where you can focus your specific topic by using searching techniques such as Boolean.

What databases to use for Nursing

You will find that there are a variety of different databases that you can use during your Nursing studies to find information relevant to nursing and health sciences. It can be difficult to know which ones to use and for what information. The format may be similar but the different databases will find different types or articles/research papers. This table might help you decide:

Pros and Cons of different databases and search engines* for nursing research
Database/Search Engine Pros Cons Rating for academic assessments
Library Search

University of Dundee Library Catalogue which covers all subjects

Access to books, ebooks, journal articles


Full text access to all online resources

Use red arrows to find references/cited by papers that you will get full text access to

Can be tricky to search *****

Internurse covers primary and secondary care

settings as well as specialist nursing practice

including cardiology, neuroscience, mental health, palliative care and wound care.

UK’s largest collection of peer-reviewed nursing content including British Journal of Nursing

Articles are relatable to NHS.

Once logged in, full text is available for all papers.

Login can be difficult.

Limited Searching.

Small database.

Avoid articles from British Journal of Healthcare Assistants.


Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied

Health Literature

Dedicated to providing Nursing and Allied Health Research articles

Essential for Nursing Research

Use Advanced Search for better searching

Will automatically use Boolean OR & find alternative words/phrases for you

You may not get full text access to all papers

Duplications with Medline, PubMed


Database searching for  academic journals covering medicine, nursing,

pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and

health care.

A core database from PubMed.


UoD subscription is the same supplier as CINAHL so easy to run joint searches and to switch between databases.

Although more medical in nature, you may find some useful articles that you may not find in CINAHL

You may not get full text access to all papers

Duplications with CINAHL, PubMed


provides records of articles and other documents in

health and biomedicine, along with aspects of behavioural sciences, bioengineering, chemical

sciences and life sciences. PubMed is provided

by the US National Library of Medicine and US National Institutes of Health but its coverage is international.

Medline is core content of PubMed search engine

Free search engine, no login required

Extensive collection with international content.

You may not get full text access to all papers

Duplications with CINAHL, Medline


A general social science database covering all

subjects including articles in science, technology, medicine, social science, health and arts and humanities

Excellent database for mental health.

Cited by option helps to 

You may not get full text access to all papers

Can be difficult to access off campus

Cochrane Library

collection of databases in medicine and other healthcare specialties provided by Cochrane

and other organizations.

Cochrane Reviews is essential for all dissertation students -  a database of systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the results of medical research You may not get full text access to all papers ****
Web of Science (WoS)

Interdisciplinary database including Social Science

and Science fields including public health,

psychology and psychiatry.

Provides various journals in medicine, science,

social sciences including humanities

Can be useful for international perspectives.

Cited by option useful.

You may not get full text access to all papers

Duplication with Medline, Pubmed, CINAHL

Google Scholar

Searches across scholarly literature including


Useful for a basic, broad search to begin with

You may not get full text access to all papers

The quality of articles can be difficult to assess


is a general search engine - searching the

internet for webpages from your search words

Useful for searching for Government policies,

Guidelines, general information


You may not get full text access to all papers searching via Google

Use with caution - try to avoid patient information websites & charity organisations for academic purposes

Knowledge Network

The national online library and knowledge

service for health and social care in Scotland.

Provides access to various databases

including EMBASE and many other resources.

Essential to use in NHS premises as NHS network won't allow access to UoD resources

Registration is required to create an Open Athens Account which works differently from SSO at UoD

You may not get full text access to all papers

Science Direct

publishers' searchable webpage for Elsevier.

Topics cover Physical Sciences and Engineering,

Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences

and Humanities

Search for peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters 

Limiting your search to 1 publisher is not ideal.

Off campus access can be tricky.

You may not get full text access to all papers