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How to search a database

  • The best way to learn is to dive in and try the various databases.
  • Some have Help screens within the database.

AND remember the more you use a database the more familiar you become with how to search it, its traps and advantages.


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Here is a quick tips sheet matching truncation and phrase searching information for various databases.

Set aside time to go through these resources.

Google Scholar:

Medline (Ovid):

  • The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library at Yale has short video tutorials on how to search Medline (Ovid).

CINAHL Plus:

PubMed: We do advise that you look at the videos for PubMed because this is a free database which means when you graduate and move on you can access PubMed as long as you have internet access.

Ovid databases:

  • Voiced online modules on how to search the Ovid databases particularly Medline and a couple on Embase and APA PsycINFO on the Ovid training website.

Embase (Ovid)

Embase is particularly useful for pharmacy and pharmacology because of the level of subheadings and the field specific searching by eg drug name, device type, drug manufacturer.

Translating a Medline search into a search in Embase.

Useful youtube from the  University of Leeds Library. Watch it to see what traps you can avoid and also helpful hints.


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