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Database Tutorials

This LibGuide contains step by step instructions for majority of research databases available in the Wolfgram collection.

MEDLINE

About this Database

MEDLINE is the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) international index.  This database contains more than 28 million references to journal articles with a focus on medical literature.  MEDLINE is the primary component of PubMed, but the interface is more user friendly for advanced searches.

Navigate to the MEDLINE Database

Library Home Page A to Z Database ListMEDLINE

MEDLINE Searching Strategies

The basic search strategy for MEDLINE is best for researchers looking at a topic for the first time.  It also takes less time and planning than advanced searching.  Often, for assignments that require 5 or fewer sources, this search strategy is sufficient.  if you aren't finding results using this method, I advise trying the advanced strategy.

Step 1: Pick your search terms

Before you begin searching, think about the terms you want to use.  Take a moment to brainstorm any potential synonyms for your search terms.  Is there a more technical term used by people in the field?  Are there brand name or generic options?  Is there a word that may have been used in the past but is now considered outdated?  Write or type these terms before moving to step 2.

Step 2: Enter your search terms

This three-bar search interface probably looks familiar if you have used databases in the past.  This is where you enter your search terms.  Use the green "Search" button to get your results list.

MEDLINE advanced search interface with three search fields

Step 3: Filter your results

This is an important step.  Your assignments often have publication date limits and require peer-reviewed academic journal articles.  The Refine Results menu on the left of the search interface is where you can use these limits to filter your results.

MEDLINE search interface with filters highlighted

The advanced search strategy is best for researchers who are more familiar with their topic or who haven't found the results they needed using the basic search strategy.  This is the preferred search method for post-graduate researchers or researchers working on review or analysis assignments.

Step 1: Pick your search terms

Before you begin searching, think about the terms you want to use.  Take a moment to brainstorm any potential synonyms for your search terms.  Is there a more technical term used by people in the field?  Are there brand name or generic options?  Is there a word that may have been used in the past but is now considered outdated?  Write or type these terms before moving to step 2.

Step 2: Use the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Databases are built like social media platforms.  They use hashtags to group items that relate to the same topic.  In databases, we call these tags "Subject Headings."  MEDLINE gives users the ability to search through their hashtags to find the ones that connect all of the papers on your topic of interest.  We access this information by using the "MeSH 2022" link in the top menu.  This will open a new search screen.

MEDLINE search interface with "MeSH 2020" highlighted in the top screen

Step 3: Selecting your subject headings

Use the search terms that you brainstormed in step 1 to begin your search on this new page.  Enter the terms one at a time to find MEDLINE's preferred hashtag.  Clicking the "browse" button will open a list of preferred hashtags.

MeSH search interface within MEDLINE

The subject headings list gives you the ability to build a search using preferred terms by selecting them with a tick box next to the term.  Use the "Browse Additional Terms" link at the bottom of the screen to add another term to your search.  Here are directions for reading this list:

  1. The text after the colon is the term from your original search.
  2. If there is a preferred term, it will be after "Use."
  3. Some terms have a small chat bubble icon to the right, these are short definitions of the term called "Scope Notes" and they help you determine if the term is correct for your search.
  4. If you want to use one of these preferred terms in your search, select the tick box under "Major Concept."
  5. Most searches include more than one search term, if you want to add another term to your search, select the "Browse Additional Terms" link at the bottom of the results table and repeat Step 2, Part 2.
  6. Once you are happy with the terms you have found, selecting "Search Database" runs the search a delivers you a results list.

Here's a quick tutorial for more info

Step 4: Filter your results

This is an important step.  Your assignments often have publication date limits and require peer-reviewed academic journal articles.  The "Refine Results" menu on the left of the search interface is where you can use these limits to filter your results.

MEDLINE search results interface with filters highlighted

Accessing Results

Once you have a results list, you will need to access the articles you want to review.  There are three ways to access articles in MEDLINE, and they depend on how we are providing the requested article.

  1. Download the full text by selecting the PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text link.
  2. Look for the article in one of our other databases using the Full Text Finder link.
  3. Request the article through inter-library loan using the ILLiad Wolfgram link - this requires creating an inter-library loan account.  More information on that can be found here.

CINAHL interface with access options highlighted