The purpose of this research was to determine which of three databases, CINAHL, EMBASE or MEDLINE, should be accessed when researching nursing topics. The three databases were searched for citations on topics selected by three nurse researchers and the results were compared. For the search of nursing care literature on a medical condition, it was helpful to search both CINAHL and MEDLINE. CINAHL provided the majority of relevant articles for the second search, on computers and privacy, but inclusion of MEDLINE and EMBASE enhanced retrieval somewhat. The search on substance abuse in pregnancy, not restricted to nursing literature, retrieved better results when searching both MEDLINE and EMBASE. Due to the nature and distribution of the nursing literature, it is especially important for the searcher to understand and respond to the focus of the researcher.