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MEDLINE: OVID and PUBMED, a comparison

With the proliferation of websites offering some form of MEDLINE searching, the Health Sciences Libraries have developed this resource to help users understand the options and limitations of the several systems available to them.

What is MEDLINE?

MEDLINE is a biomedical bibliographic database that was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MEDLINE currently indexes articles from more than 5000 journals. It contains citations to over 23 million articles, dating from the late 1940s to the present. MEDLINE covers basic biomedical research and the clinical sciences, including nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, allied health, and pre-clinical services. Some aspects of biology, marine biology, chemistry, biophysics, and plant and animal science are also covered in MEDLINE.

What is MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations?

The purpose of MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations is to provide quick access to recently published articles before they can be fully indexed and included in MEDLINE. Only the citation and abstract, if available, are searchable in MEDLINE In-Process. Once subject headings and other relevant data are added, the article's complete record is incorporated into the full MEDLINE database and removed from MEDLINE In-Process.

OVID and PubMed

OVID and PubMed are systems that search the MEDLINE database; each has advantages and disadvantages. PubMed is a government-sponsored system and is freely accessible by anyone who can access the Internet; it provides limited free access to full-text journals in addition to providing links to electronic items owned by the Drexel University Libraries when accessing PubMed via the links from the library web pages. OVID is a privately-owned interface developed by OVID Technologies. OVID's primary advantage is that the user can search different databases in several disciplines using the same interface; use is restricted to Drexel University students, staff and faculty and Hahnemann and St. Christopher's Hospital residents. Access to OVID from off-campus requires users to identify themselves in order to confirm their affiliation with the university ("Off-Campus Access" ). PubMed is generally easier to search than OVID, but it can return large numbers of irrelevant articles unless the user is familiar with the advanced search techniques of the system. OVID can be more difficult to learn, but complex and precise searching is easier to do on OVID than on PubMed. It allows a greater level of control over a search which can result in retrieval of fewer irrelevant articles.

The chart below lists some of the specific features of each system:

MEDLINE Comparison Chart

 

OVID MEDLINE

PubMed

Producer National Library of Medicine (NLM), user interface provided by OVID Technologies National Library of Medicine (NLM), user interface provided by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Access Restricted by license to University personnel. Free to all.
Coverage late 1940s - present
Choose from several time blocks
Separate MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations file.
late 1940s - present
MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations automatically included in search.
Other Database Coverage HealthSTAR; Environmental Science; Mental Measurements Yearbook and more. MEDLINE In-Process... & HealthSTAR
Full-Text Availability Direct links to full-text articles in over 200 journals via OVID in addition to providing links to other Drexel Libraries' e-journal collections via the GetIt linking utility. GetIt links to full text journals owned by the Drexel University Libraries only when connected through links on Libraries' web site.
Saving Searches Yes, through "Save Search History," queries may be saved temporarily (720 hours) permanently (indefinitely) or in the form of an "auto alert" (SDI). (Must create a personal account in OVID) Yes, the "My NCBI " feature will save queries and provide for search updates. (Must register for "My NCBI")
Boolean Searching Supported. Supported, but Boolean operators must appear in search string in all capital letters.
Truncation Supported, use $ or * as a wildcard. Wildcard usage will not map to a MeSH term. Supported, use * as a wildcard. Wildcard usage will not map to a MeSH term.

University faculty, staff, and students can contact reference assistance librarians at the Health Sciences Libraries or Hagerty Library for additional information about MEDLINE, other databases, and the many information and education services available through the Libraries.

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