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Assessment of Search Strategies in Literature-Review-Based Candidate Theses Within a Nursing Program

Authors Herrström K, Larsson S, Einberg EL, Nilsson M, Blomqvist K, Garmy P

Received 6 October 2019

Accepted for publication 30 December 2019

Published 21 January 2020 Volume 2020:11 Pages 71—77


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder

Video abstract presented by Pernilla Garmy.

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Kerstin Herrström, 1,* Stina Larsson, 1,* Eva-Lena Einberg, 2 Marie Nilsson, 2 Kerstin Blomqvist, 2 Pernilla Garmy 2, 3

1Library and Higher Education Development, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden; 2Faculty of Health Science, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden; 3Department of Health Sciences, WHO-CC Clinical Health Promotion Centre, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Pernilla Garmy
Faculty of Health Science, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad 291 88, Sweden
Tel +46 739791316

Background: The majority of candidate theses in baccalaureate nursing programs in Sweden are written as literature studies. Being able to carry out a systematic and structured literature search is an essential part of thesis-related work.
Aim: The aim of the current study was to investigate changes in nursing students’ search strategies in candidate theses.
Methods: A retrospective, quantitative study design was obtained. Librarians (n = 2) and teachers (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 2014 to 2016) regarding the use of a sufficient number of synonyms, matching search terms to the respective database, use of the Boolean operator OR, and the use of subject headings and free text searches. Use of the title/abstract search largely disappeared. There was a significant change in the types of searches being done. The searches have become more structured in later years as the use of block searches increased significantly; in other words, more systematic and relevant searches have been done in recent years.
Conclusion: The result of this study shows that the quality of the students’ search strategies improved significantly during the studied years. It is recommended that search documents are used in both formative and summative assessments to evaluate students’ search strategies. Educational development in the form of enhanced collaboration between librarians and teachers in nursing programs is recommended because it might help to develop student search strategies in literature-based candidate theses.

Keywords: information literacy, information retrieval, search strategies, literature-review-based candidate thesis, nurse education, nursing program, library instruction

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