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Honors 440 - Healthcare reDesign

Strategies for starting an initial literature search

1. Use free text or natural language

Think of how you do a Google search. Typically, you might write out a string of words together and hit the search button. This is known as "free text" or "natural language" searching. You can do this same form of search within most library databases.

Phrase as free text: human centered design healthcare


2. Pay attention to the syntax

Let's take it a step further. If you want to pay particular attention to the words you use, you may want to consider whether you want to write phrases (in quotes) or consider additional endings (truncation) and using specific database commands that include or exclude concepts (boolean operators).

  • Phrase in quotes: "human centered design"
  • Endings with truncation: human* will search for human, humans, humane, humanity, etc.
  • Boolean operators:
    • "human centered design" AND healthcare will search for both concepts together.
    • "human centered design" NOT healthcare will search for the first concept, but exclude results that include the second concept.
    • "human centered design" OR healthcare will search for either the first or second concept

3. Use the Advance Search feature to see how these search operators are used in the database

For PubMed, the above search may look like:
"health centered design" AND heathcare - Select the link to view current results
"health centered design" OR heathcare - Select the link to view current results
"health centered design" NOT heathcare - Select the link to view current results

BONUS: Note that you can pair this phrasing with other concepts such as "race", "vulnerable population*", or "health disparities". Try searching for "health centered design" and one of these concepts using the AND boolean operator. What did you find?

UNLV Libraries Website

Search for resources across the UNLV Libraries

Search for articles, books, and more at the UNLV Libraries and beyond using Quick Search.


The default search results will include books, online journal articles, newspaper articles, streaming video and more. Filters on the results page let you select materials by format, subject, date, or language, or you can opt to see only articles from peer-reviewed journals.

Log in with your ACE account to see results from more databases, to save and organize your items and searches, and to access your library account.  Learn more in the Quick Search Guide and visit the Off-Campus Access to Library Materials page.

Library Databases

Here are some library databases to help you get started on your search:


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