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Nursing and Midwifery: Research

Resources for students and staff


Literature reviews - comprehensive search strategies

Research usually requires an inital, and often ongoing, review of the literature to:

  • establish an overview of the existing research
  • identify gaps in the literature
  • place research in context
  • justify research

Conducting an extensive search of the literature is different to finding a few articles for an assignment, and requires a carefully planned search strategy.

To begin with:

  1. Make an appointment with your contact librarian for assistance with resources and advanced search techniques.
  2. Consider your main topic. What questions are you trying to answer?
  3. Do your background reading. Use specialist reference material (eg. medical encyclopedias), textbooks and other academic texts to extend your understanding of the established knowledge of your area. This will help to shape your searches.
  4. Identify your major concepts and write them down.
  5. Brainstorm for synonyms, alternative terminology and spellings for each of your concepts. Use your background reading to assist with this.
  6. Select databases(new window) to search, you may need to use more than one.
  7. Make use of the database thesaurus. This is a controlled list of subjects which are used to index records. This is powerful, precise searching. Ask your contact librarian for assistance.
  8. Run keyword searches in conjunction with your thesaurus searches. Keyword searching captures terms in the title, abstract and subjects of a database record, and it is important to consider synonyms and alternative spellings.
  9. Apply limits to focus the search. Most databases allow results to be limited to years of publication; others will also limit to age groups, study types and publication types.
  10. Treat the search like a draft. Look at the results and jot down additional, useful terms.
  11. Search the grey literature.  This is unpublished material, and can include theses, white papers, technical reports and government publications.
  12. Manage references. Attend an EndNote class, and learn to export your search results into an EndNote library.
  13. Maintain current awareness. Save your search in the database and set up autoalerts - you will be emailed when new records match your search.


Useful links

Measuring the impact of your research

Impact Factors

Impact Factors  (sometimes referred to as ISI Impact Factors or IF) are a measure of how often the average article in a particular journal has been cited within a set period of time, and is used as a quantitative tool for evaluating journals within their field.

Journal Impact Factors can be found in Journal Citation Reports (JCR). See the links on the Library databases page:

JCR can also be accessed via Web of Science and ISI Web of Knowledge databases.

If your work is cited in journals not listed in JCR, consider the following:

ERA journal rankings

The ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) initiative assesses research quality in eight discipline clusters within Australia's higher education institutions, using a combination of indicators and expert review by committees comprising experienced, internationally-recognised experts.

Scopus Analytics

Scopus Analytics is available (on campus only) from the direct link in the 'Important message' box on the Scopus database information page.  Scopus analyses data for peer-reviewed journals indexed by Scopus from 1996 to present in five calculations:

  • Citations - compare sources by the number of times a source has been cited in a year
  • Documents - compare sources by the number of documents published in a year
  • % Not Cited - compare sources by the percentage of documents published in a year that have never been cited to date
  • SJR - compare the scientific prestige of sources, based on the value of weighted citations per document
  • SNIP - compare the citation impact of sources in different subject fields

Other options for citation analyses:

Publish or Perish (PoP) is a free software program that retrieves and analyses academic citations. It uses Google Scholar to obtain the raw citations, then analyses these and presents the following statistics:

  • Total number of papers
  • Total number of citations
  • Average number of citations per paper
  • Average number of citations per author
  • Average number of papers per author
  • Average number of citations per year
  • Hirsch's h-index and related parameters
  • Egghe's g-index
  • The contemporary h-index
  • The age-weighted citation rate
  • Two variations of individual h-indices
  • An analysis of the number of authors per paper

The software is available for download from the PoP website.

Prepare for your postgraduate journey by using Tracka, an interactive thesis program that can help you to gauge how much you've achieved to keep up your momentum as you progress through the next stage.

Journal Impact Factors and rankings