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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.


Embase is a comprehensive biomedical research database that covers literature from 1947 to present. It offers over 8,400 journals from around the globe, including six million records and 2,700 journals that are not covered by MEDLINE (e.g., conference abstracts, European journal titles). Embase offers subject headings called Emtree terms, which are more granular than PubMed's subject headings, and offers better indexing coverage of devices and drugs.

Most useful for:

  • Biomedical sciences research
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Medical devices
  • Recent and grey literature.

Getting Started

Embase Tutorials provided by Elsevier

Basic Searching Instructions

Search using Emtree Terms and Keywords

Click the "advanced" search just above the search box options. Ensure that the four boxes underneath the search bar are checked; this will allow Embase to help map each of your terms to the best Emtree term.

The suggested Emtree term will appear as you type. Select the mapped term(s) that best match your concept. Click 'search' to be taken to the results page.

If needed, use the search bar above the results to add additional keywords to your search. Be sure to use single quotation marks if you need to search specific phrases. Combine similar terms with OR within the search bar.

Combining your Search terms

OR will find references with any of the search terms. Use OR to broaden your search.

AND will find references with all the search terms. Use AND to narrow your search.

Search History (Combining search results)

Your search history will appear above the search results. To combine two or more search lines of a similar concept, click the radio buttons next to the search line(s) and then "Combine using Or".

To combine two or more separate concepts, click the radio buttons next to the search line(s) and then "Combine using And"

Working with Results

Limiting/Refining your Combined Search Results

The results filters are on the left side of the page. Popular filters include publication year, study types, and publication types.


Saving your Searches

1. With an account, you can save and retrieve a search strategy, set up an e-mail alert to receive new references on your topic, and more.

2. Click "sign in" in the upper right corner. You can choose to create an account or login to Elsevier via Duke (Sign in via your institution).

3. To save your Search History, choose one or more searches via the radio buttons, then click Save (just above the search history).

4. To retrieve saved searches, click "My tools" at the top right of the page.

5. Other functions, like copying a search to Clipboard or creating an Email Alert are also available through My Tools and the buttons above the search history. You can also export the search details to a .csv or text file.

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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