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Adult Nursing BSc: Academic journals

About Journals

Journals are collections of articles, news, updates and opinion on current issues, which are aimed at academic and students, and sometimes people working in the industry. They are published at regular intervals throughout the year which means they can include very up-to-date information, and they usually focus on a specific topic so are useful if you want more detail on your topic than provided by textbooks.

Bradford College have some journals in print, but most are available online via Bolton University Library's databases.  Use your Bolton University username and password to access these.  You should use journal articles rather than information from the Internet as they have been checked prior to publication and can be relied on to be accurate and authoritative.

The following print journals are available in Bradford College library for you to consult.



Tips for finding articles

Quick guide to finding journal articles

  • If you know the article title, go to the Advanced Search in Discover@Bolton and choose the Title search
  • If you want to search across a number of journals for a topic, go to Discover@Bolton and type in your keywords
  • If you want to run a very specific search, select the most relevant database under the list "Useful databases for Nursing". 

DISCOVER is an online search tool and is a quick and easy way to search the University Library’s resources, print and electronic, and find full text information. It is a bit like using Google but the results are higher quality and more relevant to your course at Bradford College. If you are looking for information for an assignment DISCOVER is a great place to start.

To find journal articles, you need to use a library database. Databases are like search engines, but instead of searching the Internet, they search the contents of journals, books, reports, newspapers or magazines. The library pays to provide access to special academic databases that will provide you with content which has been evaluated and checked to ensure that the materials you find are of high quality.  Once you get used to searching databases, you can save a lot of time because a lot of the work has been done for you!

Different databases provide access to different types of information.  Discover searches across most of Bolton University's databases at the same time so is good for an initial search.  You can also search databases individually - this can be useful to refine your search.  

If you are researching a particular topic, the best way to find journal articles or newspaper reports is to use a database such as Discover.  Think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need.  See the tab on Search Tips for more information on constructing a search strategy.

There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "evidence based nursing" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through. 

These 5 steps will help you to plan your search strategy when looking for information to support your assignment. 

Step 1: Identify the main ideas or concepts in your assignment. 

Discuss the potential barriers to delivering compassionate care in practice

Concepts:  "compassionate care" AND barriers AND nursing

Step 2: Identify keywords. You can direct library databases to look for your keywords in the title, abstract, keywords and subject headings of an article, which means that your results are more relevant than if you were searching for your terms anywhere in the full text.  To get the best results, you need to find the best terms possible.  Spend a bit of time identifying synonyms or related terms that best describe the topic. Also think about what the question is asking - are there any key theories or problems that the question is alluding to?

Synonyms / Related Terms.

"Compassionate care" could also be "Relationship centred care" or "Patient centred care"

Barriers could also be Issues OR Difficulties OR Obstacles,

You could also search here for policies or approaches you are aware of, such as DH (2013) CNO strategy - Developing a Culture of Compassionate Care; DH (2013) Francis Report; RCN (2012) Willis Report; NHS Constitution, Patient's Charter. 

Step 3: Decide which database to use.  If you want to find academic journal articles, we recommend that you start by using Discover which searches across the majority of library databases.  If you wish to find specialist medical information such as systematic reviews, narrow down by searching on medical databases such as CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Medline. 

Step 4: Use the Advanced Search function. This allows you to put a keyword or a string of keywords on each line and then combine your terms. You should be prepared to run your search a few times to get the best results. Use speech marks to search for a phrase, and use the asterix symbol to find words with a variety of endings (nurs* will find Nursing or Nurses). 

Advanced Search

Compassionate care OR person centred care OR relationship centred care OR client centred care

AND Nurs*

AND Barriers or Obstacles OR Issues

Step 5: Check your results.  If you have too many results, narrow by adding more search terms to focus your search, or restrict your results by date, publication type (journal, newspaper).  You should also look at the subject terms that are used to describe the best results, and re-run your search using those terms. 

Remember - you can save your search if you set up an account with the database, or keep a note of your terms.  You can also view your search history and combine different searches until you get the best results. 

If you want to browse a specific journal, eg. one that you have seen referred to in a textbook or by your lecturer, you should use Bolton University Library's EJournal portal. This will allow you to access all of the full text journals that the Library provides access to.  

Type in the title of your journal and click on search.  You will see a list of matching titles.  Click on Full-text Access and click on the database name that is listed.  From here you should be able to browse different issues and search by keyword.


Before searching, think about:

  • The information that you already have.  Where are the gaps? Is the information you have at the right level and detail?
  • The type of information you are looking for.  Do you need newspaper articles, academic journals, industry reports, company information, statistics?  This will help you decide which database to search, or whether the information is available on the Internet. 
  • Theories or concepts that you may need to refer to.  Textbook usually are the best place to start as they introduce and explain topics with examples. If you want to find material which applies a theory to an issue, you will usually need to refer to journal articles. 

Be prepared to read around your subject.  You may not find an article which directly answers your assignment question, but instead you will need to synthesis information from a variety of sources. For example, you may find material on customer behaviour in a different setting to the one you are researching, but the argument and findings can be applied to your own topic.

Use the contents pages and indexes in textbooks to look up company names, theories or concepts. Don't just rely on your reading list - there is a lot of information out there!

Refer to the reading lists in books and journal articles, or use the related articles and cited by functions in Emerald and Google Scholar to widen your reading. 



How do you evaluate what articles are most appropriate for your research?  Use the CRAAP test to help you assess each article:


When was the article published? Does it matter for your topic?

Are there more recent articles you could use?


Does the information help in answering your question? 

Is it at the right level? Is it too basic or too advanced? 

Does it add to your understanding?


Does the author work for a particular organisation such as a University?

Is the author appropriately qualified to provide the information?

Has the information been peer-reviewed? If an article has been peer reviewed it will have been evaluated or edited by other experts in the same field.


Where does the information come from?

Is it supported by evidence?

Can you verify the information from another source?


What is the purpose or reason of the article?

Is the article objective? Does it give a balanced view? Is there hidden bias? Does the author use emotive language?

Has the author provided supporting evidence?

Does the article include references?




The PICO method can sometimes be useful to help you think of appropriate terms to search:

P is for Patient or Population, eg patients.  

I is for Intervention, eg. "compassionate care"

C is if you want to compare with another approach, eg counselling.  This is optional as it can really widen your search. 

O is for Outcome, eg. reduction in eating disorders. 

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