Medscape Help: Search

Medscape's Search Engine

Free text searching and Boolean searching

Medscape's search engine interprets your search and determines how best to query our databases. The two options are Boolean or Freetext, and the syntax of your search terms will determine the type of search we will run. The Medscape search engine will default to a Freetext search unless it detects words or commands commonly used in Boolean searches, including: and, or, not, quotation marks (""), brackets (<>), or parentheses. For example:

  • treatment and community acquired pneumonia will default to Boolean Search
  • treatment of community acquired pneumonia will default to Freetext

In the Boolean Search, the search engine will look for the exact phrase (community acquired pneumonia) coexistent with the word 'treatment.' This will give you a specifically defined set and a limited number of results. In the Freetext search, the search engine will look for the most likely relevant articles by occurrence and proximity of your terms. It is likely that a well phrased Boolean Search and a standard Freetext search will yield very similar results in the top number of hits--but the Freetext search may contain hundreds of more articles that gradually decrease in relevance.

Boolean Searching is more exacting, while Freetext searching tends to give a larger number of results, and is more capable of finding relevant articles that may have been missed in a the more exacting Boolean Search.

A couple of general points to know about the search engine:

  • Search terms tend to work the best when you only include the key words you're looking for.
  • Searches are conducted on the full text of the document. "Full text" includes: author name(s), article title, abstract, journal abbreviation, and article body.

‹‹ Return to Help
Advanced Searching Tips

Using and, or, not, brackets, quotation marks, or parentheses will deliver a Boolean Search.

  • Boolean operators: words such as AND, OR, and NOT specifically include or exclude words and topics in your search.
  • Adjacency operators: <NEAR>, <SENTENCE>, <PARAGRAPH> can be placed between words and phrases to limit your results list to those documents where the terms are found near each other.
    NOTE: These search modifiers will not work without the angle brackets around the adjacency operators (< >)!
  • Parentheses may be used to define logical expression order. The parentheses help to group words and/or commands that should be examined first.
  • Wildcards may be used in search words to fill in unknown or ambiguous sections of the word. This is most useful when you need to find related terms with varied endings, and you are unsure if the "word stemming" feature of the search engine will be enough. A wildcard is represented by the "*" character.

EXAMPLE: How do I find articles on pulmonary infections in immunocompromised hosts but I don't want articles on tuberculosis and viral pneumonia included? Use the search phrase:

"pulmonary infect" AND "immunocompromised hosts" NOT (tuberculo* OR "viral pneumonia")

A more exact alternative would be...

"pulmonary <SENTENCE> infections" AND "immunocompromised hosts" NOT (tuberculosis OR "viral pneumonia")
‹‹ Return to Help
Restricting by Date

You can select a publish date range for your search by using the two pulldown menus to identify the earliest date to search ("from") and the oldest date to search ("to").

  • EXAMPLE: selecting "0" in the "from" pop-up and "6" in the "to" pop-up will search for all articles posted or published within the current month, and up to six months previously.
  • COMMENT: To include all of Medscape's articles in your search, select "from 0 to 70".
‹‹ Return to Help
Restricting Search to CME, News, Images, & More
  1. Complete the search form:
    • Select a database to search (see below; default setting is "Articles").
    • Enter your search term in the text box.
    • Further define your search by:
      1. Restricting the search to articles with CME credit.
      2. Defining the age range for the search. The default in this databse is 12 months.
  2. Click the "Perform Search" button. The search engine will search through all the listings in the database(s) to find the documents that closely match the request.
  3. Click a title to retrieve the full-text document or abstract. The search engine will provide a list of article and/or medical news titles that match your search phrase. Each title is a hyperlink to the full-text article. The results page will list the top 25 articles found based on their relevance to your search term. If more than 25 articles were found, you can navigate between results pages by clicking [next]/[prev] or the page numbers at the top and bottom of each results page.
‹‹ Return to Help
Search Databases

Medscape offers several full-text databases for you to search.

  • Articles defines peer-reviewed clinical journal articles, and clinical commentary on medical publications and meetings (i.e., those articles listed under "Current Events" on each Medscape Topic page).
  • Medical News and Discussion Groups includes articles from medical news magazines, a 7-day archive of medical news "headlines," and the contents of medical discussion groups, such as PROMED.
  • Patient Information covers consumer-oriented healthcare and medicine documents.
‹‹ Return to Help


MEDLINE Search Instructions

You can search MEDLINE using the Simple Search Form (A) at the bottom of every Medscape page, or by going directly to the Basic MEDLINE Search form (B).

  1. Complete the Simple Search form:
    1. Select the MEDLINE database by clicking the button next to MEDLINE on the search form.
    2. Enter your search term in the text box.
    3. Click the "Perform Search" button. The search engine will use the default MEDLINE search settings to retrieve the documents that most closely match your request.
  2. Use the Basic MEDLINE Search Form:
    1. Follow the MEDLINE link in the top mini-search box of any Medscape home page.
    2. Enter your search phrase, add author or journal restrictions as desired, further narrow the search with the "Limit Search" Check boxes:
      • Medscape Select - 269 top-ranked journals in MEDLINE
      • English Only - limit the search to English language
      • Abstracts Only - only include citations that have abstracts
      • Reviews Only - only include citations of review articles

See Working with the MEDLINE Results for information on viewing the results of your MEDLINE search.

‹‹ Return to Help
Search by Journal and/or Author

Click the Add Journal link to bring up a list of journals. Search or browse the list and select the journal(s) you want to limit your search to by clicking on the journal name.

The listing is of journal abbreviations, rather than full journal titles. For example, "New England Journal of Medicine" is listed under "N Engl J Med".

Click the Add Author link to bring up a list of authors. Search or browse the list and select the author(s) you want to limit your search to by clicking on the author name.

‹‹ Return to Help
What is MEDLINE?

MEDLINE is a database of abstracts maintained by the National Library of Medicine containing over 8.4 million abstracts from 3,800+ medical journals.

‹‹ Return to Help
Ordering Full-Text Articles

To order the full text of a MEDLINE article, view the article abstract (click the "view" link next to the article title in the results list). In the top left of the abstract view is a button, "order full text article $." Click this button and follow the instructions. The cost comprises the copyright fee (generally the bulk of the total cost) and a retrieval and delivery charge.

‹‹ Return to Help
Email Formats

A valid 'email to' address must be included. The email will contain an Aries Systems Corporation return address along with your registered name and email address as the originator.

The 'comment' text entry allows you to provide a one line greeting or instructions to the addressee. This can be useful for providing special instructions or delivery information to your librarian offering QuickDoc delivery service.

  • Email - MEDLARS This function will send an email to an address of your choosing containing the contents of all records selected. The email will note that it is being forwarded by Aries Systems Corporation at your request. Your registered user name and email address will be referenced.
  • Email - QuickDoc You may use this function if your library of choice is using the QuickDoc document ordering method and you have previously registered for it's use with the library. You will need the libraries email address for this service. The email will contain enough information to identify each document you have selected along with your registered name and email address. Local holding copy information is also include if your library is maintaining its holding information at Aries Systems Corporation.
‹‹ Return to Help
View Formats

MEDLINE abstracts can be viewed in two different formats, depending on your needs.

  • Citation Format, the default format, is optimised for Web browsing and includes title, author(s), journal, language, MeSH terms, and publication type (with ISSN).
  • Medlars Format offers the same information as citation format, but displayed with standard MEDLINE field tags.
‹‹ Return to Help
Exporting MEDLINE References into Citation Management Programs

The save function will export copies of the records you have selected into the download directory designated by your browser. The differing formats are offered to match the data formats of a bibliographic manager of your choice. If no bibliographic manager is being used then the 'MEDLARS' format is recommended.

‹‹ Return to Help


Search Tips

You can enter the first several letters of the drug or disease name, or spell out the entire name.

If you are uncertain of the spelling, enter the drug or disease name the way it sounds.

‹‹ Return to Help