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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

MEDLINE Searching

Purpose of Guide

This guide concerns use of the three flavors of MEDLINE available on the library's A to Z database list.

  • MEDLINE (via Web of Science) 
  • MEDLINE Complete  
  • MEDLINE (via PubMed)  (freely accessible, but use the version off the library's database finder to see "Lehigh Links", give access to full-text and also interlibrary loan capabilities.)

The Chemical Abstracts Service database, SciFinder, also available in the library's database listing, enables you to search MEDLINE records.

Persons who want to do a thorough search or who will be using MEDLINE extensively may want to review the differences between these interfaces. A list of features or search capabilities on which you can compare the three flavors are in the next box. 

See the other pages of this guide for information about using each flavor of MEDLINE.

Contact a subject librarian for assistance or to discuss aspects of the various features. 

MEDLINE Searching: Features to Look For

Again, if you want to become a MEDLINE "power searcher", compare the three flavors on how they implement the capabilities necessary for your work. Contact a librarian for assistance in making these comparisons, as they relate to your specific purposes or subject areas. 


  • Available years of coverage
  • Ability to do "citing searching", namely, searching for items that cite the items that come up in your search results. To do a really thorough citing search, use more than one flavor of MEDLINE.
  • Ability to limit search results to "review articles", an important type of article that reviews the literature of a topic, not to be confused with book or software reviews. Also look for the ability to narrow searches to "systematic reviews".
  • Email alerts. 
  • Ability to use the Medical Subject headers and their sub-headers. Use of subject headers ("MeSH headers=Medical Subject Headers") enables focused, systematic searches using a standardized vocabulary, without having to anticipate synonyms for your research topic. Use of them also has limitations. [COMING SOON: recommendations about how to use MeSH headers, from National Library of Medicine]