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All researchers must invest their time and resources wisely. For this reason, we carefully select databases that best match the clinical query in content and quality. A systematic approach to searching also requires a thorough, objective and reproducible search in a range of sources to identify as many eligible studies as possible. A search of any one database alone is not considered adequate. A search of multiple databases will ensure that as many relevant studies as possible are identified.

The image below illustrates how different databases capture different sections of the wide body of available health literature. 

The most appropriate database(s) for your search depends primarily on your research question, and to some extent your discipline. For example:

  • If you are searching for evidence on a nursing or allied health intervention, databases such as Emcare and ProQuest are suitable.
  • If your question compares two different drug therapies, Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Library are key databases.
  • If your question compares two different antipsychotics, you would search PsycINFO in addition to the databases listed above.    

Use the table below to help you choose one or more databases for your search. You can also consult our 1-page overview of health databases, or browse our full list of literature searching databases.

Health Databases Overview

Literature Searching Databases

Key subscription journal databases available via Monash Health Library
Database Description Our user guide Access link

An extensive database of peer-reviewed journals in the life sciences, with a focus on biomedicine. 

Published by the US National Library of Medicine, Medline tends to have more North American journals.

For biomedical topics, we generally recommend starting your search in Medline.

Medline user guide Click here to open Medline

A biomedical and pharmacological database of peer-reviewed journals published worldwide.

We recommend searching Embase in addition to Medline, especially if you are looking for studies published in Australia or the UK.

Embase user guide Click here to open Embase

A great database for nursing and allied health searches.

Emcare is also strong in education, development and management, health care economics, social work and mental health.

Emcare user guide Click here to open Emcare

The largest database dedicated to peer-reviewed literature in mental health and behavioural science

Produced by the American Psychological Association.

PsycINFO user guide Click here to open PsycINFO
ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health

Contains scholarly articles, theses and books for nursing, allied health, alternative and complementary medicine.

Browse the Library training calendar for our regular webinar on using the ProQuest database.

ProQuest user guide Click here to open ProQuest
Cochrane Library

A collection of evidence-based practice databases that provide high-quality information about healthcare interventions and diagnostic questions.

We recommend always checking for relevant systematic reviews in Cochrane.

Cochrane user guide Click here to open Cochrane

Our A-Z list of databases and apps includes additional resources such as ClinicalKeyClinicalKey for Nursing, McGrawHill Access Medicine, UpToDate, and BMJ Best Practice.

Databases and Apps A-Z

What about PubMed?


It is important to be aware that content in PubMed is not always of high quality and includes papers that have not completed the peer review process. 
We strongly recommend using Medline rather than PubMed for these reasons:

  1. PubMed will always return more results than Medline because it includes ahead-of-print and non-peer reviewed articles. Don't be fooled by quantity over quality!
  2. A full database search in PubMed creates automatic mappings that expand the focus and reach of your search. In Medline, you control these mappings and therefore the focus and scope of your search.
  3. PubMed includes PubMedCentral papers, which are full text articles deposited to promote open access.


Medline User Guide

PubMed User Guide

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