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PBH 360: Research Methods

This guide is intended to support students in PBH360.

Library Workshop Questions

What is the best way to set-up searches on tricky research topics?

If you have a Rebel Card, that is your library card as well. Just stop in at one of the UNLV Library branches and ask for assistance at the circulation desk. If you don't have a Rebel Card, you can get a library card with slightly more limited privileges – this is also something the circulation desk staff can help with.  You will need a major credit card to sign-up for this limited privilege library card. The numerical code on the back of either type of library card and the PIN you establish can be used to access many of the databases both on and off campus. If you don’t have a library card, many of the databases are accessible in the library building or on campus with a valid university computer login. Check with your faculty mentor/primary investigator (PI) for computer login privileges. The University also has implemented a new computer login system ACE Accounts. This will need to be activated in the Library as well to synchronize your library account with the University system for library computer logins.

See Off-Campus Access to Library Materials for more details.


How can I get access to things the UNLV libraries don't own or subscribe to?

There are two systems, InterLibrary Loan (ILLiad) and Link+. ILLiad requests can send pdfs of articles to your email account, and have books sent to one of the University Libraries for you to pick up and borrow. The Link+ system will show up for books we don't have in the item record if you use the QuickSearch tool (on the library home page). In the item description, you will see a highlighted/underlined request link click on it to see if any of the other participating Link+ libraries have a copy you could borrow. It's best to check Link+ for books first, and then try ILLiad if needed.


How can I find resources that are not found online?

If you are looking for DVDs, CD-ROMs, books, or print journals, try UNLV Quick Search to locate items not available online. Items not found online may be found in the library or can be borrowed from other libraries using Link+ or ILLiad.


Why are these search engines the best to use?

Search engines vary from Web tools like Google or Google Scholar to institution based tools like UNLV Quick Search. UNLV libraries purchases research databases that contain peer reviewed biomedical literature. Many of our purchased library resources are representative of current research that has been reviewed by scientific peers for inclusion in journals. Using a variety of search engines and search strategies is the best way to pursue finding the best and relevant information for your topic area. Keep in mind that it is always important to critically analyze and evaluate every resources used in your research. Although research may be peer reviewed it is still open to critical analysis and evaluation.


Are news sites (like reliable sources?

It depends upon your research question! If you are making an evidence-based scientific argument, then often you will be better off directly examining the sources (polling data, original research, agency data) that the news media people are discussing or reporting about. However, sometimes the news media are the original eyewitnesses of current events, and their news report might be a valuable source of information. Be cautious however, because the news often is presented as "info-tainment" and is more about entertaining the audience than providing dry, objective, and reliable facts and data.


How can I get access to these databases and materials when I'm not affiliated with UNLV?

There are a number of free search tools (Google Scholar, etc.) that are listed on the subject guides ( that are available to anyone. Also, the State of NV subscribes to several general search tools on behalf of NV Residents (, other states may do the same. Check with your local public library to see what other search tools you may have access to. Public libraries also participate in InterLibrary Loan, so check with them to see what their policies are about the number of items you can request. Also, like Sue used to do, you could enroll in college class(es) every semester to maintain library card privileges!


Why does anyone have to pay for information, shouldn't it be free?

This is an ongoing debate within many of the scholarly disciplines, and the discussion includes not only articles and books but also data sets and software programs. Check out this subject guide to scholarly communication by Andrea Wirth for more information:

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