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How to Find Journal Articles via Ovid MEDLINE


Search Strategies

Retrieving Articles

Ovid Documentation & Tutorials

MeSH vs. Keyword Searching

  • Enter your word or phrase in the search box. The Map Term to Subject Heading box is automatically checked.
  • Ovid maps a word or phrase to a selection of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), which it displays as blue links in a list of descending frequency.
  • The last option shows what you entered in the search box. Select it only if the MeSH above it seem inappropriate. 
  • For a definition of a term, click the blue i to see its Scope Note.
  • Check Focus to make a MeSH a major point of the article.
  • If you select just one MeSH by clicking the box to the left of it, Ovid will display its subheadings
  • If you select several terms, Ovid will combine them with OR unless you change the default to AND at the top.

Search History

  • Results for each search are posted in numbered sets, which have no relation to each other until they are combined.
  • Compare the results for the above sets to see the advantage of using the exploded MeSH. Ovid automatically explodes selected MeSH to include more specific MeSH in its tree.

Choosing MeSH

  • If your word or phrase is contained in more than one MeSH, Ovid displays a list of its permutations.
  • Click the Scope buttons to determine the emphasis of each MeSH. In the example below, the first MeSH deals with physical stress or exertion, while the other reflects an emotional state.
  • Click on a MeSH to examine its tree, a hierarchy of broader and narrower MeSH.
  • Select the broadest relevant term(s), which Ovid will treat like the MeSH above.



  • When a single MeSH is selected, Ovid displays a list of subheadings that may be checked to narrow results to common aspects.
  • Normally Ovid combines those selected with OR. Change to AND from the pulldown menu at the top of the screen.

Combining Terms

  • Make separate sets for each concept to allow for flexible, Boolean combinations and more comprehensive yet relevant results. Unlike Google and PubMed, Ovid does not handle long search strings well.
  • Use the set numbers in the left-hand column of the Search History to combine your concepts.
  • Use OR to collect synomyms.
  • Use AND to require both (or all) factors.
  • Use NOT to eliminate a set.
  • Use parentheses around sets to make Ovid combine all sets within them with another factor using AND or NOT.
  • For simple combinations, you may also click Ovid's Combine icon, check off your sets, and select OR or AND at the top.


  • Common limits are located under the search box. Check one or more and click Search to restrict the results of your last set. Enter the set number and do likewise to limit an earlier set.
  • Check Review Articles for surveys of the literature with extensive bibliographies.
  • Check Local Holdings to restrict your results to journals held or provided electronically by the Tufts Libraries.
  • Click Additional Limits under the search box to view all limits including:
    • Age groups
    • Publication types
    • Species
    • Genders
    • Subject Subsets such as Systematic Reviews, Complementary Medicine, Toxicology et al.
    • Journal subsets for Bioethics, Consumer Health, Dentistry et al.
    • Languages

Field Searching

Fields of an article's record can be separately browsed or searched with truncated keywords. Fields include Author, Title, or Journal. These three are available on the Main Search Page above the search box.

  • Click Author to browse a list of authors and post your selection(s) to the Search History. Unsure of the author's initials? Click More Fields, append the truncation symbol $ after the name or first initial, check Author, and Perform Search.
  • Click Title to require that your preferably truncated keyword or phrase appears in the article titles.
  • Click Journal to browse MEDLINE's journals and post to the Search History the articles in a particular journal.
  • Click Search Fields to search one, several or all of the fields of the record. Select Search Fields for the broadest possible retrieval.
    • Enter a city, department, or organization with truncation symbols when needed, check Institution, and Perform Search to retrieve articles whose first author's address contains your terms.

Electronic Full Text

Limit your search to Local Holdings to narrow your results to items available at Tufts, both in print and electronically. In the Results Display, to the right of the citation, click Ovid Full Text if available, or FindIt@Tufts to link directly to the electronic full text of the article.

full text access

When you click on FindIt@Tufts, depending on the pop-up settings for the internet browser, Ovid may display a screen saying click this link to open the document. If so, do so, then check your system tray for another active window.

open pop-up

Once in the Find It@Tufts window, click the publisher's link (e.g., ScienceDirect, HighWire Press, etc.), if available, for electronic access to the journal article. If there is no publisher's link, click on Tufts Catalog for information about the print and electronic holdings for the journal.

FindIt@Tufts window

If you click on Tufts Catalog and the record for the journal does not directly come up:

  • If several titles are listed, click on the journal title link for the journal of interest.
  • If an 8-digit number (ISSN) is displayed, click on it to enter the catalog.
  • If a Go button follows the ISSN, click on it to enter the catalog.
  • If you have the catalog already open in another window, your browser may not activate another window. Simply restore the catalog window from your system tray.

Once in the journal record, if available, click on the URL for electronic access to the journal, enter your Tufts username or Library Login, and then click through the site to drill down to the article of interest.

Print Holdings

Follow the same steps as above to access the Tufts Catalog record for the journal. See How to Find Print Journals Owned by Tufts Libraries for more information.

Ovid Documentation & Tutorials