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Graduate College Library Orientation

This guide contains a list of resources, tips and tools to help you conduct your research.


What is Ovid MEDLINE?

Ovid is a popular method of searching MEDLINE, the largest biomedical information database in the world. MEDLINE is maintained by the National Library of Medicine, and contains citations dating back to 1946. 

How do I access Ovid MEDLINE?

You can access Ovid MEDLINE from the Library’s homepage. You may be asked to login via a proxy account login and password. This can be either your RUSH Network ID, Epic ID, or a specific proxy login and password. The link to Ovid MEDLINE is in the Quick Links column on the Library’s home page.


Ovid MEDLINE's Database Selection

Once you click on Ovid MEDLINE from the Library's home page, you are brought to a screen with two options.

The first option searches all of MEDLINE, from 1946 to the present.  It includes the Daily Update and articles that have been published only electronically.

The second option searches all the journals published by Ovid.  It does not search journals from other publishers.  Not all of these journals are included in MEDLINE, so a search in All Ovid Journals might return new and different results.

As with any database, you will have access to the full text of the items to which RUSH subscribes or owns.  Those without subscription status will still offer basic information (abstract, table of contents, etc) so you can decide if you want that item.  If so, you will be brought to a link for I-Share or ILLiad, our interlibrary loan options.

Searching Ovid MEDLINE

The Ovid MEDLINE Search Screen

The search box below is the starting point for all Ovid MEDLINE database searches. If you are searching MEDLINE only (not Ovid Journals), you will have the option to use subject headings. Similar to MeSH searches in PubMed, a"Map term to Subject Headings" search brings you to a screen where you can further refine your search.  Ovid will then search for items that have been specifically identified as having your selected subject heading(s) as the main topic. View the "Subject Headings, Explode, and Focus" page of this guide for more information on subject headings in Ovid MEDLINE.


Combining Searches

Ovid MEDLINE works most effectively if you search for one subject at a time, then combine the searches.

  • Search on your first subject heading.  Results will be displayed at the top of the screen.  
  • Search on your next subject heading.  Do this for as many important concepts/subject headings you need.
  • Ovid will save each of your searches in the search history box until you log out.
  • In the search history, click the box in front of the items you want to combine;  Ovid defaults to using AND.  This means that results returned will have both subject headings as a major topic.

In this case, there are 88 items that pertain to both zika and malaria.  


Limiting Your Results

There are two ways to limit (or refine) your search in Ovid. The first is to embed the limits into your initial search by choosing a criteria from the blue area below the search box.  These limiters can be used after the initial search as well, as shown below.  The second set of filters is in the grey box on the left side of the screen.


Moving Your Citations to RefWorks

1. Perform your search in the Ovid MEDLINE database.

2. Select the items to send to RefWorks.

3. Click the Export button near the top of the Results Display.

4. Select RefWorks from the Export To menu.

5. Select the Complete Reference button from the Select Fields to Display section.

6. Click the Export Citation(s) button.

7. In RefWorks click the View Last Imported Folder button.


What are Subject Headings?

Ovid MEDLINE uses a system called mapping to suggest the most relevant subject headings to the words typed into the box. Your search does not automatically default to searching by subject term, and is not an option when searching Ovid Journals.

Why use subject headings?

​Similar to MeSH in PubMed, Ovid's Subject Headings are a way to fine-tune your results.  For example, a general search on the word "culture" has the following results:

  • NOT using subject headings will return items about both social culture and urine culture.   
  • WITH the "map to subject headings" box checked brings you to a page that allows you to clarify your search (see below).

Explode and Focus

If you search using the "Map to Subject Headings" option, you might see something that looks like this.  

  • Select the Explode box if you wish to retrieve results using the selected term and all of its more specific terms.
  • Select the Focus box if you wish to limit your search to those documents in which your subject heading is considered the major point of the article.
  • If you want more information about what concepts are included in a given term, click on the information icon.

If your search did not map to a desirable subject heading, select the box "Search as Keyword."
If you select more than one term, you can combine them using a boolean operator (AND or OR).  Remember, if you want articles about one concept OR another, choose OR. 


For example, a search on the word Diabetes using "Map to Subject Headings"  gave these options:

If your topic is Gestational Diabetes, using Subject Headings will save a lot of time by eliminating quite a few other areas.

Clicking on the box in front of Diabetes, Gestational brings you to a page with subheadings.  This allows you to refine your search even further.  If you want all information about Gestational Diabetes, click the Include All Subheadings box.  That will return 7527 results.

Choosing Explode (as shown in the image slightly farther up the page) brings you to the same screen as directly above, except now there are 9017 results.  This is because Explode returns articles that pertain to Gestational Diabetes but do not have it as a main topic.

Choosing Focus (as shown in the image slightly farther up the page) brings you to the same screen as directly above, except now there are 6190 results.  This is because Focus returns only those articles that have Gestational Diabetes as a main topic.

Maps and Directions