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Literature Searching GuideClick here to chat with a librarian

The Literature Searching guide shows you how to complete an effective literature search from beginning to end. Use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate through the guide. 

Remember: the Library team provides a range of research support services to Monash Health employees and students. Attend a live webinar, book a research consultation, or request a literature search and get in touch with the Library team if you have any questions.

The Monash Health Library team is here to help -- contact us if you have any questions.


Q: What is Ovid?

Ovid is a powerful search platform that is used to build and run complex, reproducible searches on different journal databases.

At Monash Health, Ovid is used search the following subscription databases: Medline, Embase, Emcare, and APA PsycInfo.


Q: What are subject headings?

Subject headings are specific words or phrases that are used to describe the topic(s) of a journal article, conference paper, or other publication. They are essentially tags or labels that are applied to publications in a consistent manner, using a pre-defined list of words or phrases. A comprehensive literature search uses subject headings in addition to keywords.

In health research, Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are used by journal databases such as Medline and PubMed. However, Embase and Emcare use Emtree subject headings, and PsycINFO uses the APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms.‚Äč


Q: What is the difference between MeSH and Emtree?

How do Emtree and MeSH differ? - taken from https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/embase-biomedical-research/emtree 

  • "Good question. Both are hierarchical controlled vocabularies for health sciences and have a similar facet structure. In fact, Embase was modeled on MeSH in 1988. Both also link to CAS registry and Enzyme Commission numbers.
  • Over time, however, Embase has differentiated itself from MeSH. While it still includes all MeSH terms, it has become a more extensive thesaurus that facilitates a more intuitive way of exploring the literature".

Q: Does Monash Health have access to CINAHL?

CINAHL is a nursing and allied health database. Monash Health does not have access to CINAHL; however, we do have alternatives such as ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health and Emcare

CINAHL may be accessible to Monash University staff and students. 


Q: Can l use just one database? How many databases do I need?

It is essential that you search multiple databases if you are:

  • Completing a literature review of any kind, from an initial scoping review to a systematic review.
  • Reviewing or developing a clinical guideline, policy, or procedure.

Read more about searching multiple databases.

Note: Monash Health employees can request a literature search by the Library team.


Q: Which databases should l choose?

Consult the summary below and read our guidance on choosing databases.

Health Databases Overview

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