New Features on Ovid

When was the last time you searched MEDLINE on the Ovid platform? If you are a regular Ovid user, jump down to the New Features section to discover recent improvements to Ovid. If you are unfamiliar with Ovid MEDLINE, start here to learn why it is an effective tool for searching the scholarly literature.

What Ovid MEDLINE is, and why you should use it

Ovid is a platform for searching some literature databases. Thomas Jefferson University has licensed Ovid searching for MEDLINE (biomedical sciences), PsycINFO (psychology), and ERIC (education). This post will focus on MEDLINE searching.

What is MEDLINE? MEDLINE is a database of scholarly literature created by the National Library of Medicine. Journals in MEDLINE are selected by a panel of experts using a series of quality assessment guidelines. Once selected for inclusion, new articles in those journals are added to MEDLINE and then indexed using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). Articles in MEDLINE also appear in PubMed search results.

Why search on Ovid? Ovid is great for complex searching. By default, it offers a more transparent search interface than PubMed. Understanding your searches and having reproducible searches is especially important when constructing search strategies for systematic reviews and similar projects. PubMed adds related terminology to your searches (e.g., a search for surgery includes the MeSH term “surgical procedures, operative” and the keyword surgical procedures). In contrast, Ovid searches keywords as entered, including phrase searching by default. Ovid searches in relevant text fields (title, abstract, etc.) rather than all fields (author names, affiliations, etc.). And Ovid provides an adjacency search option (e.g., emergency ADJ2 surgery would find “emergency abdominal surgery”). Each method can be beneficial depending on what you are looking for and your style of searching.

New Features!

Ovid has recently added some new features. A few of these features have been available for almost a year, but we wanted to highlight them here for those of you who may not have tried them yet.

Term Finder for MeSH terms (MEDLINE Searching only)
The Term Finder is a great new way to find MeSH terms and provides more flexible options for adding those MeSH terms to your search.  Expanding the Term Finder will overlay the window on your main search page. After searching for a MeSH term, you can easily view the MeSH tree for that term, Used For Terms (synonyms), the Scope Note (definition), and available Subheadings.

Adding Terms to your search is also easier. The “Add to Search Options” menu has options to Explode terms (include narrower terms in the MeSH tree), Focus your search (search as a major heading), and add the MeSH term as a keyword.

Terms are added to the main search box in Ovid. The “Used For Terms” are also an easy way to add multiple synonyms to your search.

For now, this feature is specific to MEDLINE on Ovid. However, there are plans to expand to other databases on Ovid, like PsycINFO, in the future.

Search sharing

If you are collaborating on a project, this is the feature for you. The improved search sharing is available through three simple buttons under your search history.

“Copy Search History Details” is a line-by-line representation of the search history as text, including the number of results. The “Search History Link” is a direct link that will re-run the entire search history for anyone clicking on the link. Note: Because this is a licensed database, these links will only work for other members of the TJU community. The “Email All Search History” option will send an email containing both the Search History Details and a Search History Link. Send the email to yourself to document search strategies, to collaborators for sharing, or to a librarian for feedback!

Saved Searches and Auto Alert updates

While the save search feature in Ovid has been available for a long time, the interface is greatly improved. To use this feature, you will need to register for an Ovid Personal Account. Once you have logged into your Ovid account, choose “Save All” or “Create Auto-Alert” from the options below your search history.

For a Permanent Saved Search, name the search and add optional notes. Click Save and return to this search at any time. Before saving, you can also switch to the AutoAlert option.

The AutoAlert feature sets up email alerts when new results fit your search. Alert frequency ranges from weekly to quarterly. Add multiple recipients if you are collaborating on a project. The new auto-alert options are still in Beta, so you may or may not see them at the moment.

All three of these new features are great additions to the Ovid search platform. For questions about using these features or searching the scholarly literature using Ovid, contact