Guide to Ebsco Medline




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A Self Learning Guide to Ebsco Medline



Medline is:

  • An authoritative biomedical database, indexing over 4800 journals in the subject areas of medicine, nursing, dentistry nutrition, food science and veterinary medicine.




Connecting to Medline


  1. From your Internet browser enter the URL: https://www.publichealthontario.ca

  2. Click on “Virtual Library” on the menu bar.

  3. Click on the “Login” button.

  4. Type in your health unit’s User ID and password

  5. From the main screen click on the blue hyperlink database Medline

Tips to Database Searching
Having a solid understanding of the basic principles of searching effectively and understanding the functionalities of the database is necessary to locate the information the user is looking for.
Key to effective searching includes:

  • Identifying and breaking down your search strategy into single concepts

  • Use synonyms or related terms to broaden and expand your search


The Ebsco Interface





Basic Search/Searching by Keyword
Keyword searching will search for terms or word phrases entered in the Find Box in all of the fields of a bibliographic record indexed in Medline. Keyword searching broadens your results because it looks for terms in the author, title, abstract and subject fields.

  • Useful if you are not sure what you are looking for or you want quick information. Results may prove not to be very precise.




  1. From the Ebsco navigation tool bar click on the Basic Search tab.

  2. In the Find box, enter your subject(s) or search term(s) and click the button.

  3. Click on the Refine Search tab located on the same page to help refine your search by selecting certain restrictive parameters. This will reduce the number of article citations.




Advanced Searching-Mapping to MeSH
MeSH, a controlled subject vocabulary assigned by the National Library of Medicine is used to index all articles found in Medline. When you enter a term in the search box, Medline finds the relevant subject heading match to your term. This is called mapping.
Example: obesity prevention in public health


  1. Click on thebutton located on the Ebsco Navigation tool bar.

  2. Enter a single concept/term in the Browse For box and click on browse.



Medline maps you to the most relevant subject heading




  1. The Scope link offers a definition of the term and offers additional subject headings that may prove to be useful to defining or expanding your search.



Subheadings
A subheading allows you to narrow and or refine your search strategy.
1. Click on the subject hyperlink (in this case obesity) to lead to the subheading screen. If there is an applicable subheading apply it to your search by clicking a checkmark in the box. Note: click on as many subheading boxes as you want.


Explode/Major Concept Search
Ebsco Medline provides the following two options to help further define your search strategy.
1. From that same screen click on the Explode Box if you wish to search a term and all of its narrower terms.

2. Click on the Major Concept if you want citations where the subject heading is the main point of the article.

3. Click on the icon to complete your first search set. Your search set will appear in the Advanced Search Screen with your parameters defined.

4. Enter additional concept separately in the Advanced search screen to create search sets and apply your parameters again.



5. Apply the Boolean operators AND/OR to define the logical relationship for your search strategy.

Combining two or more terms using Boolean logic AND/OR
When a search is preformed, a retrieval set is created. Medline uses Boolean logic to help define search strategies by combining search sets using AND/OR.


  1. To retrieve articles that contains both terms, combine them using AND.

  2. To retrieve articles which includes either of the terms use the OR icon. (i.e. Cancer OR Neoplasms adds all of the articles containing either one of these two terms).

3. The NOT operator excludes the concept immediately following the Not operator. For example smoking NOT tobacco will collect articles that contain only the first term smoking.



Limits and Expanders
If the number of articles retrieved is too large, click on the Refine Search icon to set limiters.

Limiters include date range, publication type, age groups and language.

1. Select as many limits you want and apply them to your search by clicking on the search icon.


2. Select expanders when your search yielded far too few hits. A related word search is where synonyms and plurals of words are included in the search or when full text is available, terms are searched like keywords in the full article.

3. Click on the icon to complete your search with the defined limiters or expanders.



Displaying and Marking Results
Once you have completed your search, scroll down the list of citations (presented 10 at a time) and select articles which may be of interest to your research.
1. Click on ADD beside the citation to select this article and send it to your folder. Once you have added the article, the ICON will change to “ADDED” which means it has been sent to your “Folder” for keeping until you are ready to print, email or save your citations.

2. Click on Next to view the next 10 citations.

3. Click on Previous to view the previous 10 set of results.
Note: unless specified generally all articles are in the citation format and do not provide full- text. Ebsco does however provide full text access to certain journals.
4. Where available, click on Linked Full Text hyperlink to gain full text access to the article.


The Results List: Printing, Emailing and Saving Records
Once you have reviewed all of your citations and have added them to your folder click on Folder has items located at the top right hand corner. This will lead you to the list of citations you have selected and have readied for printing, emailing or saving.



  1. Click on “Linked to Full Text” hyperlink to print or save the PDF/HTML full text format of the article. Located underneath the citation, click on the PDF /HTML format to retrieve the full text of the article. Note: PDF’s will be required to be printed out separately and one at a time.



2. Click on the Print hyperlink to select article citations for printing. Ebsco also provides you with options for citation records. Brief citation usually includes title, author and source. Brief citation with abstract includes the abstract as well as the title and source information.

3. Click on the Email hyperlink to email your article citations. It will prompt you for an email address.

4. Click on the Save hyperlink to save your article citations.
Saving Searches
By registering through EbscoHost, a free feature, Ebsco allows you to save, rerun, and modify your searches.


1. Click on the Search History/Alerts Tab to view your search history.

2. If you already activated your account, Ebsco will prompt you for a username and password. You can logon and setup your account with EBSCOhost by clicking the Sign In to My EBSCOHost hyperlink located on the main screen page and follow the instructions.



3. Assign a name to your search (i.e. Obesity and public health). Click on Save.

  1. When you are ready you can retrieve your searches at a later date by clicking on the Retrieve Searches link. A list of all your saved searches will be presented.


Additional Features
Search Alerts
Ebsco Medline allows you to set up search alerts, available only with EBSCOhost privileges. With a saved search, Ebsco will automatically rerun your search and send any new results posted within the literature to your email account.

  1. Click on the Save Searches/Alerts link.

  2. If you have not already done so, you will be prompted to logon to EBSCOhost.

  3. Enter a title to identify your search.

  4. Choose the Alert radio button.

  5. Choose the date frequency that you would like the search run.

  6. Check the Email notification box, to alert you by email when you relevant articles are available. Type in your email address in the Address field.

  7. Any new articles posted within your specified date timeframe will be emailed to your account.


Publication Searching
Two ways of searching:


Browse for Articles
Click on the Publications icon located on the Ebsco tool bar. An alphabetical list of journal titles will appear on the main search page.

  1. Type in a specific journal title in the Browse for box and click browse.





  1. By clicking the checkbox beside the title you want and then click Search, Ebsco will present a list of all journal issues, arranged chronologically by date.

  2. Select an issue, peruse article titles, and click the ADD icon to select articles for your “Folder.



Performing a Subject Search/Keyword Search within a Publication
Once you have selected a journal to peruse you can further define your search by conducting a subject/keyword search.


  1. Enter a subject/keyword to narrow or refine your search within the publication. Typing the term “obesity” for example and combining with the publication Pediatrics, using the Boolean operator AND yielded a much lower result (173 articles).

  2. Depending on the results of your search, apply your limits/expanders by clicking on the Refine icon.

  3. To further narrow your searches consider additional subject headings offered by Ebsco. . Clicking on the subject heading obesity epidemiology for example resulted in 49 articles.




A Self Learning Guide to Medline, OPHLA Revised. September 2007




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