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Science Honours: Advanced searching in Medline

About MEDLINE/PubMed

MEDLINE is recognized as the premier index of biomedical literature, and includes coverage of nursing. It is produced by the United States National Library of Medicine and covers thousands of international journals from 1950. MEDLINE can be used to find primary EBP research.

The search tips below are for the MEDLINE on the Ovid platform. Ovid provides access to a number of health, medical, and psychology databases, including Ovid EBM Reviews.

You can check to see if the Library has full text using the Find It at CSU icon on the right hand side.

Advanced Medline

Searching in Medline

MEDLINE defaults to the Advanced Search screen. There is only one line of search, so for more complex searches you will need to Group your search terms (see Search Tips for more information), or run your searches individually and then combine them.

Medline Search

  • There are other Search Modes available. With Basic Search, you can simply type in exactly what you are searching for, and the results will be sorted by Relevance.
  • The default is to a phrase search so typing in nursing diagnosis will search for that as a phrase.
  • There are many limiters available. Some of these you can apply at the time of your search, others - Additional Limits - can only be applied to a search you have already run.
  • The proximity operator is ADJn, where n is the number of words you specify.
  • MEDLINE is primarily an index, but does have some links to full-text. For results where there is no full-text link, click on the Find it at CSU link to search for the full article in other CSU Library databases.

Advanced - Using MeSH Terms in Medline

MeSH (medical subject headings), is a controlled vocabulary/thesaurus, created by the US National Library of Medicine, that MEDLINE indexers use to describe article content. Searching Ovid Medline using MeSH terms enables us to create a targeted search.

In the Advanced Search screen, tick the Map Term to Subject Heading box. Enter your topic/concept/idea in the search box and click on Search.

Note: When searching using MeSH terms we search for one concept at a time, individual concepts can then be combined using the MEDLINE Search History function.

Medline search

Let's use "heart attack" as an example. If you map the term "heart attack" to subject headings, you get a match for Myocardial Infarction, as shown on this screen:

Medline map search to MeSH term

  • Tick the Explode box to select, and search for, subject headings and any narrower terms. This is a way of broadening your search.
  • Tick the Focus box to search only for articles where that subject heading appears as a Major Subject Heading.
  • If you click on the subject heading itself, you are taken into a tree view - that is, the subject heading hierarchy. Use this to identify broader or narrower terms.

Select Myocardial Infarction, click on Continue to select from a list of subheadings. You can select all the subheadings, or make a selection of 1 or more subheadings which can be combined with AND or OR. In our example we select the subheading /pc - Prevention & Control & click on Continue to search.

Medline search using MeSH term and suggested subheading

Our search for Myocardial Infarction/pc [Prevention & Control] produced 101 results:

Medline MeSH search results

Note: Although you may find some links to full text articles, MELINE is primarily a database of abstracts. To locate full text when not immediately available click on the Find it at CSU links to check if the full text is available in another of our subscribed databases.

Saving searches

Searches are recorded in the Search History panel which is above the Search panel. If you can't see all of your previous searches, click on the Expand button to the right of the Search history panel.

If you wish to permanently save searches, search alerts, or manage research, you need a personal account in Ovid. Here's how to set it up:

  • At the top right of screen, click on My Account.
  • At the right of screen, Create Account.
  • Follow the instructions and prompts to set up your new Account.
  • Make a note of your login and password for future use!

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