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Diversity & Equity in Healthcare

Search Strategy Tips

How To Search For Literature Using Natural Language & Controlled Vocabulary

Depending on what Banner Library resources you are searching, breaking your inquiry down into its component keywords is essential. However, not just any keywords lead to a fruitful search. If you know how the information is organized, you can find it.

That precise terminology even has a name: Controlled Vocabulary (CV). CV creates a standard for information organization. Keep in mind that "official terminology" or CV might not mirror natural language. 

Let's say as an example that I need information on healthcare disparities among transgender adults. 

  • Document your strategy using Logbook created by VU Amsterdam Libraries
  • Formulate your research question and break into separate concepts. In this case: Concept 1 = Transgender Adults and Concept 2 = Healthcare Disparities
  • Collect relevant CV/MeSH terms for each Concept
  • Collect relevant natural language/keywords (TIAB terms) use [tiab] field code after keyword: Ex: transgender[tiab])
  • Combining Concepts: use Boolean operators AND and OR
  • Search for keywords in both title and abstract fields to discover "official terminology". Document any additional terms you find.


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