CINAHL with Full Text is the premier database for finding journal articles in the subject areas of nursing and other allied health sciences.

This tutorial demonstrates how to

  • find peer-reviewed journal articles
  • link to the library’s e-journals
  • request articles through interlibrary loan from other libraries.

Follow the steps in this left-hand panel to search CINAHL, which is open in the right-hand frame.

If you are off-campus, you may have to log in first with your LDAP password (your VU email ID and password). Use the navigation arrows at the bottom to advance to the next page.

When searching on your own, CINAHL can be accessed by starting at the library homepage ( Click Databases, A-Z and choose CINAHL with Full Text.

Click on the right arrow below to start.

Using the search boxes

Let's search for journal articles on the topic of smoking cessation.

Type smoking cessation in the first search box.  Click Search.

How many results do you get?

As you can see, CINAHL is a very extensive database with a wealth of journal articles.  Let's use some of its powerful features to focus our search. Click Advanced Search, located just beneath the search boxes to return to a fresh search page.

Advance to the next screen. 

Using Search Limits

Scroll down under Search Options to where you see Limit your results.

Let's find articles published during most recent five years. Under Published date, type 2009 into the first box labeled Year and 2014 into the second box labeled Year.

CINAHL is an international database. So let's limit our search to articles published in English by placing a check next to English Language.

Finally, let's limit to peer-reviewed journals.  The articles in these journals are considered to be of the highest scholarly quality, because they undergo a review by two or more experts before being accepted for publication.  Place a check next to Peer Reviewed.

Now type smoking cessation in the first search box (if it was not retained from the previous attempt) and click SEARCH.

How many results do you retrieve?

Advance to the next screen.

Focusing Your Search

OK, we're beginning to limit our search to a more manageable number of results.  Let's focus our search to smoking cessation among students.  Type students into the second search box.

How many results do you get?

By the way, have you noticed that we type only important keywords into the search boxes? We do not type complete sentences or questions (as you would do when searching Google), nor do we type short phrases such as smoking cessation among students.

Advance to the next screen.

Using Major Subject Headings for Further Refinement

Scroll down the left-hand side of the screen and stop where you see Subject: Major Heading.  We can use this feature to limit our search to college students specifically. Click and place a check next to students, college.

subject headings

Now we have a very focused set of articles.

Let's see how we can access the full text of the articles.

Advance to the next screen.

Finding the Full Text of Articles

Some journals are instantly available as part of the CINAHL database.  Scroll down to the article entitled "A Review of the Evidence on Technology-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Tobacco Dependence in College Health."  Notice the pdf full text icon.  Click this for full text. 

pdf icon

Or, you may see Link to Full Text, which will also connect you to the full text of the article.

CINAHL also has the capability to link to hundreds of the library's electronic journals.  Scroll to the article entitled "Intent to quit among daily and non-daily college student smokers." There is no pdf full text icon.  So, click the blue Find it button. 


At the next screen you will seefull_text_online

By clicking this button you will connect to the full text of the article, and you can download it to your computer.

Advance to the next screen.

Using ILLiad to Obtain Articles from Other Libraries

You may click Find it and instead see this message: 

Sorry, this item is not available online.

This means that the library does not subscribe to the journal in which the article appeared.  However, you can request this article from another library at no cost to you by clicking this button:


You will connect to ILLiad, the library's interlibrary loan system. Log into ILLiad with your Villanova University LDAP ID and password (the password you use to access your Villanova email).


You may have to set up an account at this point. Submit your account information if prompted for it, and close the ILLiad account window. Click a second time on Get a scan to open a pre-completed request form. You will be notified via email when the pdf file of the article has been deposited into your ILLiad account. Articles usually arrive in 2 to 5 business days.

Advance to the next screen.

Citing Tool

CINAHL has a citing tool to assist you in formatting your references.  Choose an article from your Result List and click the title.


At the next screen you will see more information about the article, such as subject headings and (often) an abstract.  On the right-hand side of the page you will find a list of tools.  Click the Cite tool.


A list of citations will be displayed, each one formatted according to a specific documentation style.  APA Style is used by the College of Nursing, so choose that one.  A word of caution! These references are not guaranteed to be 100% correct and may require some editing. We recommend that you purchase a copy of the Publication Manual of the APA. More information about this can be found on the final screen of this tutorial.

Capturing Your Results

You can select references and then print, download, or email them to yourself.  You can also export them to citation management software, such as RefWorks. To capture your results, return to your Result List.  Select the articles that interest you by clicking the blue folder located to the right of each title. The folders will turn yellow and appear to contain a document.


When you have selected all the citations you wish to capture, scroll all the way up to the top of the CINAHL screen and click the yellow folder icon, which will appear to be open and contain contents.

saved folder

At the next screen, displaying just the items you've selected, click Select All.  Finally, choose the desired tool from the list on the right. 


Advance to the next screen.


Some APA Style Resources

Need help with APA Style?  Try these resources:

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).  Washington, D.C.: APA. 
Available for purchase at the University Store and other bookstores. Copies available for consultation at Falvey Library. REF BF 76.7 .P83 2010

Research and Documentation Online -
APA (Social Sciences) Section

APA Demystified (brief videos)
  Journal articles

  In-Text citations

  Books, websites, book chapters

Advance to the next screen


See how much you've learned by taking this short quiz:

How can you search CINAHL most effectively?

How can you access the full text of the articles?

If you click Find it and see "Sorry, this item is not available online," is there a way to get a full-text scan of the article free of charge?

Advance to the next screen.

Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.