University of Nebraska Medical Center

Which literature database should you search?

By Cindy Schmidt

Do you need to identify a journal article on a specific topic?  Perhaps you need to find all the journal literature on that topic?  The library licenses a variety of databases that index journal literature.  These are accessible through the “Resources” menu on the library’s homepage (click on the “Literature Databases” option).  You can search these databases yourself or ask a librarian to complete a search for you. If you want to search the literature yourself but are having trouble finding what your need or want some search training, click here to use our online scheduling system to book a Zoom session with one of our Education & Research Services librarians.  

Perhaps you don’t need a meeting but just need to know which database would be most useful? 

Three databases, MEDLINE (versions include PubMed, EBSCOhost MEDLINE, and OVID MEDLINE), EMBASE, and Scopus provide wide coverage of the biomedical journal literature.  Most UNMC affiliates are familiar with MEDLINE/PubMed, but EMBASE and Scopus may be less familiar.  

EMBASE includes records for all the journal articles indexed by MEDLINE as well as records for articles in some journals that are not indexed by MEDLINE.  In addition, EMBASE contains records for posters and papers presented at many of the more important conferences and records for articles deposited in several pre-print repositories. 

Another database, Scopus, provides wide coverage of the biomedical literature but also includes a lot of non-biomedical journals as well.  If you have a topic that might be covered by a criminal justice journal, a math journal, an engineering journal, etc.  try this resource.  Scopus also tracks the references cited by the articles it indexes.  If you need to know which articles have cited an article you or someone else has published, give Scopus a try. 

Other databases focus on specific topics or types of literature: 

  • APA PsycINFO – psychology and psychiatry literature 
  • CAS SciFinder – chemistry, biochemistry, drugs
  • Cochrane Library – systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and controlled trials
  • CINAHL – nursing and allied health literature, research instruments used are indexed 
  • ERIC – education literature 
  • Greenfile – environmental issues 
  • IEEE – engineering 

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