What is Ovid Medline?

  • MEDLINE is the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database/article index that contains over 20 million references to journal articles
  • Coverage is from 1949 to the present
  • Over 5200 journals worldwide in over 37 languages are indexed. Covered are basic biomedical research and the clinical sciences, including clinical medicine, public health, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, allied health and pre-clinical sciences as well as life sciences that are important to practitioners and researchers – biology, environmental science, biophysics, chemistry and plant & animal science
  • Ovid, a software company specializing in text retrieval applications and search interfaces, provides an easy to use interface for searching MEDLINE

Accessing Ovid Medline

  • Use the Quicklink on the Bio-Medical Library's homepage to access Ovid Medline

Searching Ovid Medline

  • Ovid Medline defaults to the Advanced Search tab
  • Divide the research topic into conceptual parts and do one aspect of the search (e.g. a specific disease/condition) at a time
  • Search example: Citations on controlling type 2 diabetes and obesity with exercise can be divided into 3 concepts: type 2 diabetes, obesity (prevention and control), and exercise. Type the first concept into the search box, leave the Map Term to Subject Heading box checked and click Search:

Example search in Ovid Medline

  • Ovid Medline uses subject headings to describe concepts, rather than relying on an author's keywords. Ovid suggests subject headings that best match your entry terms.
  • On the Mapping page, leave the Auto-Explode box checked so that your our search includes narrower subjects that fall under this subject heading
  • Select Focus if it seems that the subject heading may be too broad:

Mapping interface

  • Keywords can also be used to search for concepts for which there is no good subject heading or to search for brand or model names
  • Scope notes are used to find more information out about a term. Click on the 'i' icon to read the scope note
  • To search using a keyword, select the mp line at the bottom of the Mapping display:

Keyword interface

  • Subheadings significantly narrow a subject search. If there is likely to be a lot published about a topic, choose one or more subheadings to narrow results (e.g. Prevention & Control in the image below) or choose all subheadings by clicking the Continue button:

Subheading interface

Adding Additional Concepts to a Search

  • Repeat the above steps for the second and third aspects of the search. For the example above, you would next add Obesity in the search box and complete the process, then continue again with the term Exercise
  • Combine two concepts by clicking the check box to the left of the set display and then click on the AND button to narrow results to all topics. Click on the OR button to combine "like" terms:

Combine sets interface

  • Once you have combined your sets, you can refine results by using Limits. Commonly-applied limits in Ovid Medline are listed directly under the search box and include parameters such as English language articles, range of publication years, and articles about Humans. Click on the Additional Limits button to see the full suite of Limits --including Age Groups.

Reviewing Citations

  • The latest set created in Ovid Medline is always available directly underneath the search box. To view a previously created set, click on the Display link next to that set
  • To view more detailed information about a citation, click on Complete Reference
  • Avoid using the Find Citing Articles link as it searches only a small portion of the Ovid Medline database
  • To see if the University Libraries have access to either the online or print copy of the article, click on the Find It link:

Display options


Managing Results

  • To print, email or export citations to RefWorks or another file type, select individual citations by checking the checkbox next to each numbered citation or check Select All.
  • Then click the Print, Email or Export link left of the Results Tools.

Managing results


Saving Your Search

  • To save a search in Ovid Medline, you must first create a Personal Account
  • Click My Account in the upper right corner of the Main Search Page
  • Click Create a new Personal Account. You will be prompted to create a Personal Account Name and Password. Passwords must be 6-8 characters in length
  • Once you have created your Personal Account and are signed in, then return to the Main Search Page by clicking the Search tab
  • Click the Save Search History button beneath the search results
  • Name the search and click Save

Video Tutorial Series: Literature Searching in Ovid MEDLINE


For a PDF copy of this information, download the handout below.


Subject Specialist

Liz Weinfurter

Liz Weinfurter

314 Diehl Hall
(612) 624-6492