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Copy of Systematic Reviews RD May 24 to consult with Academic Skills: Selecting databases

Choosing a database

 

For most systematic reviews and extensive literature reviews in Health Sciences we recommend:

  • Ovid Medline
  • EMBASE
  • CINAHL
  • APA PsycInfo
  • Cochrane Library

Depending on the topic, you may also like to search trial registers such as Clinicaltrials.gov or other grey literature resources.

See https://libguides.library.universityofgalway.ie/Systematic_Reviews/greyliterature

For other disciplines, see:

https://libguides.library.universityofgalway.ie/LiteratureReview/Sources

Database content broader than you think

 

Keep in mind that the specialty area of a database is very broad, and it indicates the types of journals indexed rather than the specific content. For example a nursing and allied health database will still include articles on general medicine, psychology and radiology which are published in nursing and allied health journals. Likewise, there are many nursing related topics in Medline and PsycINFO. Medline and Embase cover an extremely wide range of topics.

Summary of key health databases

 

The following diagram shows the type of content, and a rough idea of the overlap, of key databases. It demonstrates the need for multiple databases to be included in a comprehensive literature search, but it does not attempt to be exact or exhaustive. Databases change constantly and there are many layers of duplication.

Summary databases

 

Database

Platform

Content

Usability

Recommended use

Comments

Medline ALL

Ovid

  • Biomedical, clinical sciences, general health
  • US database, includes international journals

*****

  • If you only search one database make it this one
  • Key database - all purpose
  • General health and medical topics - also includes nursing, allied health, mental health
  • Essential for systematic reviews - search strategy should be finalised in Medline before translating to other databases
  • Content of Medline ALL is the same as PubMed  - no need to search both
  • Uses MeSH subject headings

Embase

Ovid

  • Biomedicala and general health
  • Pharmacology focus
  • European database, includes international journals

****

  • Key database with a European focus - all purpose
  • Pharmaceuticals are a strength
  • General health and medical topics - also includes nursing, allied health, mental health
  • Essential for systematic reviews
  • Highly detailed indexing with many subject headings for minor topics, so may return high number of results - consider focusing subject headings if relevance is low
  • Uses Emtree subject headings
  • Said to include all Medline content as well, but different records are retrieved so it does not replace a Medline search

APA PsycInfo

Ovid

  • Mental health and behavioural sciences

****

  • Mental health, psychology, psychiatry
  • Systematic reviews
  • Uses PsycInfo subject headings

CINAHL

EBSCOhost

  • Nursing and allied health

***

  • nursing and allied health
  • Systematic reviews
  • Different syntax (commands) to Ovid databases
  • Uses CINAHL subject headings
  • Search history defaults in reverse order

Cochrane Library

Wiley

  • Systematic reviews, trials

**

  • Essential for systematic reviews
  • Syntax (commands) can be tricky and are best translated from an Ovid Medline search using the Polyglot Search Translator
  • Uses MeSH subject headings, but they look different to Ovid Medline

PubMed

NLM

  • Biomedical, clinical sciences, general health
  • US database, includes international journals

**

  • If you are already comfortable with PubMed - otherwise Ovid Medline ALL provides the same content with a more structured and consistent interface
  • Free access without a subscription
  • Either Medline ALL or PubMed should be searched for a systematic review
  • Content is same as Medline ALL - there is no need to search both
  • Free, public access database
  • Uses MeSH subject headings
  • Search guidance for this platform not currently available through our library