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Medicine: Databases

Guide to information resources for medicine at the University of Warwick Library, including books, journals, databases, referencing and sources of help.

What is a Database?

Databases are the best way of finding peer-reviewed articles, scholarly books, conferences, theses and other information on your topic. Some databases enable you to search across disciplines while others are tailored to help researchers in your specific subject. 


Key Databases for Medicine

Have a look at the key databases for medicine:

  • Medline (OVID): this is the major clinical database for medicine. If you only search one database, make it this one.
  • PubMed is an alternative version of Medline that is freely available
  • Embase: covers biomedical research with an emphasis on drug research and pharmacology
  • The Cochrane Library: systematic reviews published by the Cochrane Collaboration
  • Web of Science: a multidisciplinary database. Good for research questions that cut across different disciplines
  • CINAHL: the main nursing allied health database

Alternatively, have a look at the complete list of medical related databases.

For information about other subjects, use our full database list.


Clinical databases

Clinical databases tend to be a little bit more complicated to search as they usually use an indexing system. The indexing system is there to help you find the most relevant search terms. For example, you may want to search for research on german measles but you would also need to search for rubella. The indexing helps you to find the most relevant keywords. The main indexing system is called MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) and is used by Medline and PubMed.

Online tutorials to support clinical literature searches


Medline is a specialist database that indexes most of the world's research articles in the area of medicine.

This tutorial takes you through the process of creating an effective search strategy for the Medline database and gives you an opportunity to have a go at completing a search. It also covers some of the more general search principles and techniques that you can use with any database. The quiz at the end allows you to assess what you have learnt.

Conducting a systematic literature search.

For anyone undertaking a systematic review, a scoping review or any review that requires evidence of how you have searched the research literature, this tutorial will help you to think about the practical steps of completing the searching stage of your systematic review. This includes advanced search techniques, the use of search filters, supplementary search techniques, including citation searching. There is also advice on recording your search strategies and managing your references.

Evidence Based Medicine.

You may already be familiar with searching the literature using databases such as Medline, but there are a range of other information resources that can help you to evaluate and critically appraise the quality of the research that you are finding.

This tutorial will introduce you to the process of conducting an evidence based literature search and give you an overview of the range of specialist evidence based information resources available. You will have the opportunity to investigate the different resources.

Advanced search techniques.

There are a range of search techniques that you can use to help to refine your search strategies, such as truncation, wildcards, phrase searching and proximity searching. Some of these techniques apply across all databases, for example, truncation searching and others will vary between the different databases, for example, proximity searching. The following guide will show you how to apply these techniques in the following databases – Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, CINAHL, Web of Science, ASSIA, Scopus and the Cochrane Library.

Get Help From Your Librarian

Academic Support Librarian for Medicine, Life Sciences and Psychology

Sam Johnson

Email Me

If you have any questions or need any help and advice, please contact me. I am happy to meet in person or via Teams or have a chat via email.

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