Skip to main content

Searching Medicine & Life Science Databases: MEDLINE (Simple)

Running a simple search in MEDLINE

The steps below can be adapted to fit most search topics.


1. Decide on your search topic

Think of a clear, concise statement that summarises your search topic. For example:

I want to find research about the regression of glioma in children

2. Break down your search topic

Divide your search topic into smaller subjects.

For example, I want to find research about the regression of glioma in children breaks down into the following subjects:

  1. Glioma
  2. Regression
  3. Children

You will need to search MEDLINE for each of these subjects separately (though 'Children' is an age limit that can be applied at the end of your search).


3. Search for your first subject

In MEDLINE, type your first subject (e.g. Glioma) into the Advanced Search box and click Search.

undefined

MEDLINE will suggest subjects that may be relevant to what you searched for. If you think a suggested subject is useful, tick it. Then tick Include All Subheadings and click Continue >>.

You will be returned to the main search screen, where your first search will appear in your Search History, showing how many results MEDLINE has found relating to your first subject.


4. Search for your next subject

Type your next subject (e.g. Regression) into the Advanced Search box and click Search.

Again, MEDLINE will suggest a subject or subjects that may be relevant to what you have searched for. However, MEDLINE's suggestions won't always be appropriate for your search.

For example, if you search for Regression, MEDLINE suggests the subject Regression (Psychology). This refers to the psychological state of regression, not the physiological regression of tumours or other diseases. So, in this case, don't tick the suggested subject as it is not appropriate. Instead, tick the 'search as Keyword' option underneath it. 

This tells MEDLINE to run a keyword search for your subject i.e. it will look for the word Regression in the titles and abstracts of articles. 

Tick the 'search as Keyword' option whenever MEDLINE's subject suggestions aren't appropriate for your search. 

Then click Continue >>.

You will be returned to the main search screen, where your next search will appear in your Search History, showing how many results MEDLINE has found relating to your next subject.

Repeat the above steps for any additional subjects that relate to your topic.


5. Combine your searches

Once you have run all your separate subject searches, you need to combine them. In your Search History, tick each of your searches, then click the AND button.

AND is used to combine searches on different subjects: e.g. Glioma AND Regression.

An extra line will be added to your Search History, showing how many results are about all the subjects you searched for.


6. Apply limits to your search

To limit results only to those that are about children, click Limits underneath the Advanced Search box.

Then click Additional Limits.

Under Age Groups, click All Child. (You can also limit by language, document type etc using this screen). Then click Limit A Search.

A new line will be added to your Search History, showing the number of results left after applying your chosen limit(s).


7. View your results

Scroll down to view your results. 

Click Abstract to view article summaries.

Click direct PDF links (where they appear) to read the full text of articles. Otherwise, click QConnect to check if the university has a subscription to the journal in which the article is published.


8. Save your search and re-run it later

To save a search, scroll up to your Search History and click Save All.

Log in to your personal Ovid account or, if you don't have one yet, click Create Account and fill in the form that appears.

Think of a name for your search and, in your personal Ovid account, type it into the Search Name box. Type MEDLINE and the date of your search into the Comment box. Then click Save.

You will see a yellow message, confirming your search has been saved.

Now you can close MEDLINE and re-run your saved search at a later time. To do this, go back into MEDLINE, and click View Saved.

Log in to your personal Ovid account. Tick your saved search, and click Run.

MEDLINE will re-run your search and display its results.


 

What is MEDLINE?

The MEDLINE database, from the National Library of Medicine, is a good place to look if you want quality, peer-reviewed medicine and life science research. It indexes over 20 million references from approximately 5,500 journals.

Queen's University Belfast allows its students and staff to search MEDLINE via the Ovid platform.

Accessing MEDLINE

Go to www.qub.ac.uk/lib and either:

  • Type MEDLINE into the QCat Library Catalogue box
  • Click Submit
  • Click Resource underneath MEDLINE (1946 to present) or MEDLINE (last 5 years)

Or:

  • Click Databases A-Z
  • Click M
  • Click MEDLINE (1946 to present) or MEDLINE (last 5 years)

If you are connected to the university network, you will be taken straight into MEDLINE. At home or elsewhere off-campus, you will be prompted to log in with your student number and password.

Other Ovid databases

The Ovid platform also offers access to key databases such as EMBASE and PsycINFO.

These databases can be searched in the same way as MEDLINE, so if you master MEDLINE, you should find it easy to use these other databases.

TOP TIP: Expand your Search History!

By default, your MEDLINE Search History will only show the 4 most recent searches that you have run, so earlier searches may seem to 'disappear.'

To view all lines of your search, make sure you click Expand in your Search History.