Skip to Main Content
Monash Health Library

Click here to chat with a librarian

Ovid is a powerful search platform that can be used to build and run complex literature searches across a range of citation databases. At Monash Health, the following databases open in the Ovid search platform: 

Visit the Medline User Guide for a quick overview of basic Ovid features. 

What about other databases? Remember to consult our 1-page overview of health databases to help you choose one or more databases.

Health Databases Overview

Monash Health Library. (2024, May 28). Literature database essentials: Skills every researcher needs to know! [Video]. YouTube.  

Comprehensive webinar on searching with field codes, truncation, wildcards, adjacency, subject headings and translating across Ovid databases. 

Tip: If you see a database referred to as "Ovid Medline", for example, it simply means that Ovid was used to search the Medline database.

Incorporating these shortcuts into your keywords can help you to search efficiently for spelling variations and differences in phrasing.

  Phrase Searching Truncation (*) Adjacency (ADJn-1) Wildcard (?)

Most databases use double quotation marks for phrase searching; e.g. "diabetes mellitus" or "skin cancer"

Note: Ovid databases do not need quotation marks for phrases.

For example:

  • effect of treatment -- finds papers with this exact phrase but will not find papers with the phrase treatment effects 

To find alternative endings for a keyword.

For example:

  • cancer* -- finds 'cancer', 'cancers', 'cancerous' & more
  • therap* -- finds 'therapy', 'therapies', 'therapeutic', 'therapist' & more 

To find keywords in close proximity to one another. In ADJ(n-1), the n = the number of other words that you will accept between the keywords.

For example:

  • stroke ADJ3 aspirin -- will look for the words 'stroke' and 'aspirin' with up to 2 words between them, in either direction. E.g. "Aspirin helps prevent stroke".
  • cancer ADJ4 therapy -- will look for 'cancer' and 'therapy' within 3 words of each other in either direction. E.g. "Patients who had undergone therapy for metastatic breast cancer reported..."

To substitute one letter in a word for any other letter or character, or none.

For example:

  • p?ediatric -- finds 'pediatric' as well as 'paediatric'
  • M?cDonald -- finds both 'McDonald' and 'MacDonald'
Example search term NA (cancer* OR neoplasm*) AND (therap* OR treat*) ((cancer* OR neoplasm*) ADJ3 (treat* or therap* or chemotherap*)) (p?ediatric* ADJ3 (cancer* or neoplasm*))
Tips Phrase searching can be used to narrow and broaden results. Use carefully and consider synonyms so that your don't miss relevant papers. Think twice before truncating shorter words -- act* will find 'action', 'acting', as well as 'actually' and 'actuary'. The 'n' in 'ADJn' can be any number you like: ADJ5, ADJ6, and so on. Think about common ways of expressing similar ideas or topics and how close or far apart the keywords can be. Use a hashtag (#) instead if you only want to substitute one letter or character, e.g. 'wom#n' will find 'women' and 'woman'. 

Note: These 'shortcuts' are known as search operators or syntax. They are, in effect, a language that we can use to 'talk' to search platforms and citation databases. Different search platforms and databases speak in slightly different languages. See the Quick reference syntax table for more information.

Medline is a premier citation database for peer reviewed literature on biomedicine and life sciences topics available via Ovid. Created by the US National Library of Medicine, Medline comprises over 26 million articles from quality, peer-reviewed journals. 

Medline is the recommended bibliographic database for health researchers and clinical queries.

Key features:

  • Suited to complex search queries
  • Built in search function to explore MeSH headings, scope notes and ‘use for’ terms 
  • Boolean operators AND / OR and natural language/keywords are supported.

View the advanced user guide for detailed, step by step, instructions and guidance on using the Medline database.. It covers:

  • MeSH subject heading and keyword searching
  • Use of field codes for keyword searching:  .ti, .ab, .tw, .mp etc. 
  • When to use shortcuts such as # or * or ? or ADJ or ()
  • How to create a free personal account
  • Editing, saving and creating alerts
  • Exporting results
  • Changing from Medline to Embase, Emcare or PsycInfo

Medline Advanced User Guide

Monash Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples, and we pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past, present and future.

We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment that embraces all backgrounds, cultures, sexualities, genders and abilities.