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NURS 6320 - Theoretical Foundations: Find Theories


To find an overview, definition, or summary of ontology and epistemology, it is likely that you will need to look outside of the standard healthcare databases. Instead, try using Reference or Humanities resources like these:


Gale Virtual Reference

Use Advanced Search to look for "ontology" and then limit to the "Medicine" collection.

An image showing a search for "ontology" limited to the Medicine collection in the "GALE eBooks" database.

Repeat this process using the term "epistemology."

An image showing a search in the "GALE eBooks" database for "epistemology," limited to the Medicine collection.

Ontology and Epistemology


Ontology, as a branch of philosophy, is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects. In simple terms, ontology seeks the classification and explanation of entities. Ontology is about the object of inquiry, what you set to examine... the nature of being and existence.

From the University of Warwick


Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. It is concerned with the mind’s relation to reality. What is it for this relation to be one of knowledge? Do we know things? And if we do, how and when do we know things? Answering these questions requires considering the relationship between knowledge, truth, belief, reason, evidence and reliability. It requires considering the different psychological routes to knowledge, including different processes of reasoning – logical and scientific – introspection, perception, memory, testimony and intuition. And it requires considering the nature of the known reality.

From the University of Sheffield

Identifying Theories in Other Platforms

Remember to use the [TW] tag with "theory," and then use Boolean Operators to combine with topic of interest.

An image showing the history of a search in PubMed combining theory as a text word and keywords of interest.

Remember to use SUBJECT HEADINGS to help make searching easier. Most citations in CINAHL are indexed.

An image showing how the term "theory" is indexed in the CINAHL subject tree.

Use Boolean Operators to combine with your topic of interest and check the subject headings.

An image showing a search history in CINAHL combining the subject heading "Theory" with keywords for multiculturalism.>

Using the Advanced Search feature of Google Scholar gives the user more control over results.

An image showing the advanced search box in Google Scholar.