Skip to Main Content

Nursing: Searching for US Research

A guide for students in the CSUF Nursing program.

Searching for US Research

Students often encounter issues trying to locate studies that were conducted within the United States. This can be frustrating when you only seem to get back research conducted in other parts of the world. While there is no perfect way to narrow your results down to only domestic studies, there are a few tricks which can be helpful. 

Try to use the databases - While not every database has this feature, several of them offer ways to narrow down your results by geography or geographic subset. This is especially true in the EBSCO databases (which include CINAHL Plus, APA PsychInfo, APA PsychArticles, etc.). When using these, consider the following options:

Geographic Subset - This option (available at the bottom of the main search page in CINAHL Plus), will search for studies tied to the region selected. NOTE: This method is NOT perfect. It might locate foreign studies published in US publications, or foreign studies conducted by US researchers. However, it will help in removing many undesired results. You can also do this from the results page by scrolling down and selecting the bottom menu on the left of the results, "Geography."

"Geographic Subset" menu on CINAHL Plus search page


Check the Item Record - If you've located an article and still aren't sure where the research has taken place, take a look at the item's record in the database. The item's record us usually what you end up on when you click on a search result, and it contains a lot of information about the article. Below we see a screenshot of an item record in CINAHL Plus. Note the following areas:

Authors / Affiliation - In the case of this article, all of the associated researchers work in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Source - You may be able to learn from the name of the journal. While this particular one doesn't give us any regional details, but's also worst noting that it isn't the British Journal of Midwifery or the International Women's Health Journal.

Language - While many articles from all over the world are written in English, this can sometimes be a helpful indicator (especially if it is published in more than one language, i.e. French and English might denote a Canadian journal.

Abstract - Finally, the abstract often will contain information on a study. If we're lucky, it might name exactly where it has taken place. Sometimes, however, regional spellings might inform you of a study's setting. for instance, you might see reference to a "health centre" or "doctor's practice," or even a description of "labour pains." All of these use European spelling variants of words which should alert you that it is very unlikely a domestic study.

Item record in CINAHL Plus


Try not to use "United States" as a search term - This approach is often used by students in hopes of locating only items which were conducted in the United States. However, there are a few problems with this approach. For one thing, there might be a perfect article for your topic based on research right in Tucson Arizona. Only they don't use the phrase "United States" once through the entire article, and so you wouldn't get that result back in your search. You might also find results of a study in Morocco that compares the infection rates there to those of the United States. This result would come back in your results, only because they use this country as a comparison model.