Using Health and Medical Databases

How to use PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, JBI via Ovid, MIMS Online.

MEDLINE, PubMed, and PubMed Central (PMC)

MEDLINE opens in a new window is the National Library of Medicine (NLM) journal citation database. A distinctive feature of MEDLINE is that the records are indexed with NLM Medical Subject Headings opens in a new window (MeSH).

PubMed opens in a new window is a free resource developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). PubMed provides free access to MEDLINE, links to full-text articles found in PubMed Central opens in a new window or at publisher websites, and other related resources. PubMed also provides Clinical Queries opens in a new window search filters, and Special Queries opens in a new window pages.

PMC (PubMed Central) opens in a new window is a free digital archive of full-text biomedical and life sciences journal articles at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).

Accessing MEDLINE, PubMed and PMC

Online tutorials

Example of a journal article in PubMed, linked to open access full text in both PMC and on the journal's website


O'Keeffe, J., Willinsky, J., & Maggio, L. (2011). Public access and use of health research: An exploratory study of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy using interviews and surveys of health personnel. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(4), e97. doi:10.2196/jmir.1827

PubMed record: opens in a new window

PubMed Central record with Full Text: opens in a new window


Typically, if open access options are available, they will be linked from icons at the top right of the page.

Pub Med record showing links to full text

There may be additional options to find the full text under Link Out at the bottom of the record.

These may take you to Library databases such as ScienceDirect to view the full text of a journal to which the Library subscribes.

This will not work if you are off-campus. Write down the citation and try looking up the article in Library Search.

Searching for Systematic Reviews in PubMed

Use PubMed Clinical Queries to find systematic reviews in PubMed.

Input your keywords and select 'Search'. The results for systematic reviews will display in the centre of the page.

Pub Med Clinical Queries results page

Other PubMed/ NLM resources

What are Advance online publications?

Advance Online Publications are peer-reviewed journal articles that have been accepted for publication and have been made publicly available, but are not yet ‘formally’ published in the sense that they have not yet been assigned a volume and issue number in the journal.

Publishers now frequently put up new articles which have been accepted on the journal’s website. They may be called “Articles in Press”, “Early View” or “Advance Access”.

They can also be found in PubMed, although no MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) will be assigned at this stage, and full text link outs may not appear.

They will usually be denoted in PubMed as [Epub ahead of print]

Getting the Full-Text

If you have a citation with a doi, CQUniversity Library users can put the following URL in front of the doi to resolve it.


If you find the article in a search via Library Search, CINAHL with Full Text or MEDLINE, you will usually see the “Get this article” icon.

Without a volume and issue number, CQUniversity Library’s Article Linker program will not be able to locate the actual article, but it should give you a link to the journal.

You may then need to dig around a bit on the journal site to locate the relevant article.

How do you cite these articles?

Example citation in APA 7th

Smith, J. A. (2010). Citing advance online publication: A review. Journal of Psychology. Advance online publication.

EndNote tip

If you have advance publications in your EndNote Library, and want to check to see if they have been subsequently assigned a volume and issue number, you can select the reference, then go to References in the Toolbar Menu, and select Find Reference Updates.

Special filtered searches

Relevant websites