Medline Guide

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This brief guide will cover the basic use of Medline on OVID including Subject searhcing, understanding the explode option, understanding the results and managing your results.

About Medline

Index Medicus was the first index to medical literature and was produced by the National Library of Medicine as early as 1880. It is still available in print format. Since 1966 the National Library of USA has also been producing Medline, the online version of Index Medicus.

Index Medicus volumes from 1880 - 1965 are held in the University of Sydney Medical Library. The University Library also provides internet access to Medline from 1966 onwards.

Medline contains bibliographic citations and author abstracts from more than 4,300 current biomedical journals published in the United States and 70 other countries. Coverage is international, but most records are from English-language sources or have English abstracts. Approximately 76% of MEDLINE records include abstracts as they appear in the journal. There are currently 13 million records dating from 1966 to present. MEDLINE is updated weekly and records are incorporated into Pre-Medline weekly.

The Medline database is a subject index using a controlled vocabulary called MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) to describe references indexed. The value of the MeSH thesaurus is that it allows a higher level of precision when searching. All terms are arranged in a logical tree structure that originates with 15 main categories or branches.

Designing a search

This step is applicable to any database you may search. Follow the guidelines in the First step box to ensure you retrieve the maximum number of relevant citations.

First step Identify the key concepts represented in your topic
Select your search terms
Depending on your topic, you may chose to search by subject, keyword, or a combination
If you're using keywords, think of all possible ways of describing the concept and write down all of the relevant words with their synonyms