Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Medline Exercise: Introduction


The aim of this guide is to be an introduction on how to use the Medline Ovid interface to build a structured and logical search strategy.  Whether you are new to searching, or needing a refresher, you can follow along with the search example or use the step by step instructions to build your own search. It is designed to be used as a guide on the side and you may wish to use it to build a draft search prior to a consultation with a librarian.

Let's get started!

Steps: Connect to Medline at UBC

Why do a structured search?

  • This methodical process saves time (in the long run)
  • Being structured uses the databases' tools and techniques effectively
  • Allows for greater sensitivity balanced with specificity
  • Provides a transparent and replicable description that is required for knowledge syntheses such as Systematic or Scoping Reviews
Here is an example of a structured search: Search Strategy Explained.

How to use this guide

This exercise will guide you through the process to build a structured search in Medline on the Ovid platform following these processes:

  1. Identify your research question and analyze using a framework such as PICO
  2. Find relevant search terms - Subject Headings
  3. Find relevant search terms - Keywords
  4. Combine searches
  5. Adding Limits or Filters
  6. Saving searches and results

Each page includes step by step instructions alongside a video presentation of the process. Note that there is no sound.

To begin, you may wish to view each page and "follow along" with the search example. Check out the Activity sections for instructions on how to follow along or to build your own search.

Why use Medline on the OVID platform?

  1. It has similar content to Pubmed
  2. Ovid's mapping to subject headings can be more accurate
  3. The Ovid search engine has more tools, such as proximity operators, that help with the precision and relevancy

Using Medline (OVID)

  1. Go to
  2. Choose the Indexes and Databases tab
  3. Type Medline in the search field and click Search
  4. Choose the Medline (OVID) database from the search results
    • You may be prompted for your CWL
    • You will be taken to the Ovid search page

Video Demo: Accessing Medline (OVID)