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Region 5 Blog December 3rd, 2021
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Nov

17

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MEDLINE Now Playing on a Platform Near You: Maximizing Your MEDLINE Experience in PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid

Posted by on November 17th, 2021 Posted in: Bio-Medical Professionals, Education, Library staff, Training & Education
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The Pacific Northwest Chapter/ Medical Library Association (PNCMLA) hosted a virtual conference November 4-5, 2021. At the conference, I presented with Andrew Hamilton (Oregon Health & Science University) and Diana Louden (University of Washington) on searching MEDLINE in PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid. The presentation included and overview of MEDLINE and tips on searching in each platform. This post provides resources shared and discussed in the presentation.

MEDLINE is an index of 28 million journal articles from 5,200 journals in biomedicine. The index is maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). A distinctive feature of MEDLINE is that the records are indexed with NLM Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). MEDLINE can be searched through multiple platforms, including PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid. MEDLINE in PubMed is free to search and use, while EBSCO and Ovid require a subscription.

Consider using MEDLINE on different platforms like seeing the same movie in a different theater. You might prefer one theater; your friend might prefer another. Maybe you like the snack options in your favorite theater, maybe you like the seats, maybe you like the price. Similarly, many people have preferences about what platform they use for MEDLINE searching. PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid all have different features and strengths for searching MEDLINE.

Andrew created the cheat sheet below to compare key differences in search strategies for MEDLINE in PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid.

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Searching Medline in PubMed, EBSCO, and Ovid

Phrase Searching Commands

PubMed

  • Use of quotation marks (“used tires”) will search the PubMed Phrase index.
  • If the term is not included in the phrase index, PubMed will revert to using Automatic Term Mapping to process the words in the quoted phrase
  • Allows searches for embedded stop words or Boolean operators (e.g. “hit or miss”)

EBSCO

  • Use of quotation marks (“used tires”) will cause EBSCO to look for words in the exact order
  • Allows searches for embedded stop words or Boolean operators (e.g. “hit or miss”)

Ovid

  • Use of quotation marks (“used tires”) will cause Ovid to look for words in the exact order
  • Allows searches for embedded stop words or Boolean operators (e.g. “hit or miss”)
  • FREQUENCY SEARCH COMMAND SYNTAX: x.ab./FREQ=n (diabet*.tw./FREQ=5 finds any record with 5 or more instances of words beginning with diabet- in the textword field)

Adjacency Searching Commands

PubMed 

  • No adjacency search function available

EBSCO

  • N# for bidirectional adjacency
  • W# for unidirectional adjacency

Ovid

  • ADJ# for bidirectional adjacency
  • ADJ is a one word unidirectional adjacency command
  • No multiword unidirectional adjacency

Truncation Searching Commands

PubMed

  • Uses asterisk (*) for unlimited truncation.
  • Use of * turns off automatic term mapping for that term
  • Truncated terms must contain at least four characters
  • No character limited truncation searching

EBSCO

  • Uses asterisk (*) for unlimited truncation.
  • The hash sign (#) matches one optional character.
  • The question mark (?) matches exactly one character.
  • No minimum character limit for * truncation
  • No character limited truncation searching

Ovid

  • Uses asterisk (*), dollar sign ($), or colon (:) for unlimited truncation.
  • The question mark (?) matches one optional character.
  • The hash sign (#) matches exactly one character.
  • No minimum character limit for */$/: truncation
  • Use of *# = the max number of characters allowed.  (e.g. diet*3 will find diets, dieting, dietary, but not diethylene or diethylamino, etc.)

MeSH Explosion Commands

PubMed

  • Automatic explosion.  Use [mh:noexp] to turn off explode feature

EBSCO

  • No automatic explosion. Use exp MeSH Term to enable explosion

Ovid

  • No automatic explosion. Use exp MeSH Term to enable explosion

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A copy of the cheat sheet is available as a chart to download (PDF). Slides from the presentation and the presentation recording are available on request (contact ehamstra@uw.edu).

 

The National Library of Medicine and the Network of the National Library of Medicine provide additional resources on MEDLINE:

Image of the author ABOUT Emily Hamstra
Emily Hamstra is the Outreach & Access Coordinator for NNLM Region 5.

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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