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Database Search Tips

This guide will help get you started in some of our most popular databases! Happy searching! Let us know if we can help.


The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases containing independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. Includes full-text PDF versions of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for both complete reviews and protocols. Additionally, this resource includes the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), a source of reports of randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials. Finally, you'll find Cochrane Clinical Answers, a clinically-focused entry point to rigorous research from Cochrane Reviews. They are designed to be actionable and to inform point-of-care decision-making. Each CCA contains a clinical question, a short answer, and data for the outcomes from the Cochrane Review deemed most relevant to practicing healthcare professionals. 

Most useful for:

  • High quality systematic reviews
  • Randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials
  • Clinically-relevant information to guide evidence-based decision-making

Getting Started

Cochrane Library Tutorials provided by Wiley

Basic Searching Instructions

You can begin by either browsing the individual databases using the top navigation bar. Or, you can use the search box located in the upper right hand corner to perform a keyword search.

Using the search box in the upper right hand corner offers ways to refine your search. 

For example, you can search for terms that might appear in the title, abstract, or keyword; record title; abstract; author; keyword; all text; publication type; source; doi; accession number; trial registry number; Cochrane group; and Cochrane topic. 

Searching with Keywords

Using the Advanced Search feature offers the most control over your search

Cochrane offers four ways to search on the Advanced Search page - Search, Search Manager, Medical Terms (MeSH), and PICO. For most searches, the Search tab and the PICO tab will suffice. 

The Search tab will allow you to search for terms in different fields, such as a Title/Abstract/Keyword search combined with an author search. Once you build out your search strategy, you can either select Search limits or click Run search.

The search limits allow you to filter by content type, date, or Cochrane Group.

The search results allow you to choose between study types: systematic reviews, systematic review protocols, trials, and editorials. 

To obtain the full-text, click on the study title. For Cochrane Systematic Reviews, a PDF is always provided. For Trials, a link is provided.

Steps to Find Full-Text Articles

If you are unable to find full-text articles using the links below, you will need to order it via InterLibrary Loan (Step #3).

Before making a request for full-text articles through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), please try steps #1 and #2 to search for the full-text. This allows our service to focus on articles that are not available for free nor via our Duke subscriptions. Our Interlibrary Loan service is no charge to Duke borrowers for all article requests. If there are copyright or other fees associated with your article request, we will contact you.

  1. Find the article citation in a database: If you aren't already in a database, go back to PubMed or other database such as CINAHL, Embase, or Web of Science to look up the article. Why? Because our Get it @ Duke button will fill out the ILL form for you with all the article information – this saves you time and ensures greater citation accuracy.
  2. Click the GetIt@Duke button: Once you locate the article in a citation database, click the Get It @ Duke link.
  3. Select second button to request as Med Center User: From the page that says “We don't have this online — see below for other ways to get it” click the green button that says “Request – Med Center users.”
  4. Log on with your DHE / NetID username and password: This will take you to the ILL form. The article information will be filled into the form automatically. Scroll to the bottom, verify accuracy, and click submit.

If you can't find the citation in a database or you don't see a GetIt@Duke button, you can place a request manually through our interlibrary loan service. Follow the steps below.

Questions about Interlibrary Loan? All interlibrary loan questions should go to Louis Wiethe, Document Delivery & Interlibrary Loan Manager, 919.660.1179 or

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