Part 1: Introduction

About this tutorial

This tutorial guides you through the steps of searching Ovid MEDLINE for dentistry articles. It includes lots of examples and quizzes to test yourself on what you've learned.

Optionally, if you want to try out any of the examples yourself in MEDLINE, you can:

You can always get back to the home page (which has links to every section) by clicking home.
You can go to the next section by clicking next.
And you can go back to the previous section by clicking back.


MEDLINE is an index of millions of health sciences articles, created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It's a terrific tool for finding articles on a particular topic. To create MEDLINE, indexers examine each article and then record:

There are several versions of MEDLINE. The different versions have the same underlying data, but they have different search features, a different "look", etc. PubMed is the National Library of Medicine's own version, which is freely available on the Web. Ovid MEDLINE is a version designed by Ovid Technologies, which is purchased by many university and hospital libraries.

How does indexing affect search results?

Here's an example of how indexing works:

In 1998, three authors (named Lars Bondemark, Juri Kurol, and Ake Larsson) together published an article in the European Journal of Orthodontics called "Long-term effects of orthodontic magnets on human buccal mucosa--a clinical, histological and immunohistochemical study".

A MEDLINE indexer recorded various basic facts about the article, such as the title of the journal, the date, the page numbers, etc. The indexer also analyzed the article to determine what it was about, what population groups it dealt with, what kind of study it described, and more.

E.g., for Publication Type the indexer checked off all of the following types:

If you were searching MEDLINE, and you limited your search to the Publication Type "Clinical Trial", this article would be among your results. Similarly, it would be among your results if you limited your search to "Controlled Clinical Trial" or to "Journal Article". But if you limited your search to a type not checked off by the indexer -- say, "Case Report" -- then this article would NOT be among your results.

The indexer figured out what the article was about and assigned a number of MeSH headings (i.e., official Medical Subject Headings), including:

These Subject Headings help researchers find this article if they are interested in any of the following topics:

Why are Subject Headings necessary?

Authors use a variety of terms to describe a single topic; e.g., they might write "oral mucosa" or "buccal mucosa" or "mouth mucosa", all of which mean the same thing.

Without Subject Headings, you would have to guess what words various authors might have used, and do "Keyword" searches for each of the synonyms ("oral mucosa", "buccal mucosa", etc.).

But thanks to indexers, you can find all the articles about this topic grouped together under the official Subject Heading Mouth Mucosa -- no matter what vocabulary the authors happened to use!

Part 2: Getting started
A.  Selecting a database

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