Assessment of search strategies in literature-review-based candidate theses within a nursing program

Kerstin Herrström, Stina Larsson, Eva-Lena Einberg, Marie Nilsson, Kerstin Blomqvist, Pernilla Garmy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The majority of candidate theses in baccalaureate nursing programs inSweden are written as literature studies. Being able to carry out a systematic and structuredliterature search is an essential part of thesis-related work.Aim: The aim of the current study was to investigate changes in nursing students’ searchstrategies in candidate theses.

Methods: A retrospective, quantitative study design was obtained. Librarians (n = 2) andteachers (n = 4) randomly examined selected candidate theses (every third thesis, n = 89)from the years 2012, 2014, and 2016.

Results: The result showed a significant improvement over the years (from 2012 and 2014to 2016) regarding the use of a sufficient number of synonyms, matching search terms to therespective database, use of the Boolean operator OR, and the use of subject headings and freetext searches. Use of the title/abstract search largely disappeared. There was a significantchange in the types of searches being done. The searches have become more structured inlater years as the use of block searches increased significantly; in other words, moresystematic and relevant searches have been done in recent years.

Conclusion: The result of this study shows that the quality of the students’ search strategiesimproved significantly during the studied years. It is recommended that search documents areused in both formative and summative assessments to evaluate students’ search strategies.Educational development in the form of enhanced collaboration between librarians andteachers in nursing programs is recommended because it might help to develop studentsearch strategies in literature-based candidate theses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages6
JournalAdvances in Medical Education and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Information Studies (50805)


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