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What's the difference between PubMed, Medline and Scopus?

Medline is a bibliographic database produced by the [United States] National Library of Medicine. PubMed (Public Medline) is the free interface to Medline. Ovid is a company that hosts Medline content ie, it is a commercial version of Medline which the University pays for. Scopus is the name of another commercial database that hosts Medline content.

  • The search interfaces are slightly different.
  • The ‘behind the scenes' processing has differences.
  • PubMed and Medline (Ovid) content is a subset of Scopus. PubMed indexes around 6000 journals, Scopus indexes around an additional 17,000 (total around 24,000) journals including most, but not all, of the content of the Embase database.
  • PubMed content should be in the version of Medline (Ovid) the University subscribes to ie Ovid MEDLINE(R) Epub Ahead of Print, In Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE (R) Daily, and Ovid MEDLINE (R) 1946-Present.
  • PubMed, Medline (Ovid) and Scopus include very recent articles placed online ahead of being published. PubMed and Medline (Ovid) include preprints on Covid-19 from medrxiv and biorxiv.
  • However, PubMed has the most recent articles compared to Medline (Ovid) and Scopus so you may want to do a very quick PubMed search and look at the first few results (as they are displayed in publication order) as well as doing a Scopus or Medline (Ovid) search.

All 3:

  • Work with reference management software.
  • In all 3 you can set up a free account and save your search.
  • Have 'cited by' links but those links in Scopus are the best and most comprehensive of the 3 databases.

If you are interested, read:

  • official explanation of the difference between Medline and PubMed.
  • Note that most of the content of Medline (Ovid) is included in Embase.

Advantages and pitfalls of Medline (Ovid)

Advantages and pitfalls of PubMed

Advantages and pitfalls of Scopus

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