(Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System
Online) is a literature database
of life sciences and biomedical information. It includes medicine
, veterinary medicine
, and health care
. MEDLINE covers much of the literature in biology
, and fields such as molecular evolution
. Listing of an article or journal in MEDLINE is not endorsement.
Compiled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), MEDLINE is freely available on the Internet and searchable via PubMed and NLM's National Center for Biotechnology Information's Entrez system.
The database contains more than 18 million (2008) records from approximately 5,000 selected publications (NLM Systems
, Feb 2007) covering biomedicine and health from 1950 to the present. Originally the database covered 1965+, but this has now been enhanced, and records as far back as the 1950/51 printed indexes are now available
within the main index. The database is freely accessible via the PubMed interface, and new citations are added Tuesday through Saturday. For citations added during 1995-2003: about 48% are for cited articles published in the U.S., about 88% are published in English, and about 76% have English abstracts written by authors of the articles.
MEDLINE uses Medical Subject Headings
(MeSH) for information retrieval. Engines designed to search MEDLINE (such as Entrez
) generally use a Boolean expression
combining MeSH terms, words in abstract and title of the article, author names, date of publication, etc. Entrez
allows also to find articles similar to a given one based on a mathematical scoring system that takes into account the similarity of word content of the abstracts and titles of two articles.
MEDLINE functions as an important resource for biomedical researchers and journal clubs
from all over the world. Along with the Cochrane Library
and a number of other databases, MEDLINE facilitates evidence-based medicine
. Most systematic review
articles published nowadays build on extensive searches of MEDLINE to identify articles that might be useful in the review. Many articles mention the terms that have been used to search MEDLINE, so that the search is reproducible by other scientists.
Additionally, MEDLINE influences researchers in their choice of journals in which to publish. Few biomedical researchers today would consider publishing in a journal not indexed by MEDLINE, because then other researchers would not find (and cite) their work.
Inclusion of journals
Approximately 5,000 of the world's leading biomedical journals are indexed in MEDLINE. Selection is based on the recommendations of a panel, the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee (LSTRC
), based on scientific policy and scientific quality. New journals are not included immediately.
PubMed's Journals Database contains information about each included journal, such as official name abbreviation and URL.
Searching MEDLINE effectively is a learned skill; untrained users are sometimes frustrated with the large numbers of articles returned by simple searches. Counterintuitively, a search that returns thousands of articles is not guaranteed to be comprehensive.
There are tutorials for instruction on the PubMed interface to MEDLINE. Unlike Google searching of the Web, PubMed searching of MEDLINE requires a little investment of time. Using the MeSH database to define the subject of interest is one of the most useful ways to improve the quality of a search. Using MeSH terms in conjunction with limits (such as publication date or publication type), qualifiers (such as adverse effects or prevention and control), and text-word searching is another. Finding one article on the subject and clicking on the "Related Articles" link to get a collection of similarly classified articles can expand a search that yields few results. In addition to the National Library of Medicine's tutorials, there are several other aids to effective searching, such as pages from a book on MEDLINE usage that can be browsed at Google Book Search
- EAGLi - the Engine for question-Answering in Genomic Literature: a terminology-powered (Gene Ontology, Swiss-Prot keywords...) biomedical retrieval engine for MEDLINE.
- GoPubMed - Explore PubMed/MEDLINE with Gene Ontology
- MEDSUM - a PubMed/MEDLINE summary tool. Returns number of papers associated with authors, journals or subjects; broken down by years, MeSH terms, ages, journals, authors etc. Used for exploring authors or journals. Alternatively, useful for generating data on a field of research for review paper purposes.
- EBIMed - Explore PubMed/MEDLINE with Gene Ontology and UniProt
- MeshPubMed - Explore PubMed/MEDLINE with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- Authoratory - a data-mining interface to PubMed showing author's status, most frequent coauthors, professional interests, affiliated institution, etc.
- HubMed - An alternative interface to the PubMed medical literature database.
- eTBLAST - a natural language text similarity engine for MEDLINE and other text databases.
- BIOWIZARD - a Digg-style site for PubMed/MEDLINE with search functionality through Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- CureHunter - Explore the relationships between diseases, drugs and therapies in PubMed using the MeSH ontology
- FABLE - a gene-centric text-mining search engine for MEDLINE
- Unbound MEDLINE - Clinician-friendly MEDLINE searcing via PDA, wireless devices and the Web
- PubMed Reader - A free web-based alternative interface for Medline search
- Twease - an open-source biomedical search engine
- Journals Database, MEDLINE.