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H 523: Foundations of Public Health: Accessing Journal Articles

This page is for students in H 523. Contact Uta with any questions about using PubMed/MEDLINE or getting full text articles.

Accessing PubMed / Medline

Journal articles will be accessed via the biomedical and life sciences database, PubMed/MEDLINE.  There are two versions of this database and you have access to both.

When clicking the links below, you will need to enter your ONID information so we can "authenticate" you as an OSU student and give you access to the databases.  If you are on campus, this authentication will happen automatically.

Searching PubMed/MEDLINE

Once you have accessed the database, there are many different ways to search for your article citation.  One effective way is to do a keyword(s) search. Keywords are those words or short phrases that capture the essence of your question or topic.  Do not use sentence-length queries to search the database.

In PubMed/MEDLINE (the Ebsco version):

  1. Enter your keywords in a search box.  
  2. If you wish to search for your keywords in a specific field (article title, article abstract, etc) in the citation record, use the dropdown menu to select the field of interest.
  3. Click Search to run your search.
  4. Use the information in the "Finding Full Text of an Article" module to locate the full text.

In PubMed/MEDLINE (free):

  1. Click on Advanced Search under the search box at the top of the page.
  2. Use the Builder feature to constuct your search.
  3. Enter your keywords in a search box.
  4. If you wish to search for your keywords in a specific field (article title, article abstract, etc) in the citation record, use the dropdown menu to select the field of interest.
  5. Click the Search button to run your search.
  6. Click on the orange "find it @ OSU" button to get the full text.


Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Articles indexed in Medline/PubMed are assigned subject terms (words or phrases) that represent the important concepts presented in each article. These terms are known as (Me)dical (S)ubject (H)eadings or shortened to MeSH (pronounced mesh). When used, MeSH helps researchers to identify the the most relevant term(s) used to represent concepts.

For instance, a researcher using Medline/PubMed to find articles about heart attacks would instead want to use the term Myocardial Infarction, the phrase used by Medline/PubMed and assigned to articles on this subject. For complex topics, it may be necssary to identify multiple MeSH terms that, together, represent the best search terms for the information need.

MeSH in Medline/PubMed Record

Image of Medline/PubMed record with MeSH highlighted

The Systematic Review

systematic review is a type of rigorous literature review that meets well-defined criteria. The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (section 1.2.2) provides the following characteristics of systematic review:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.

Although the systemic review that you conduct may not "live up" to Cochrane's high standards, it is important that you clearly identify what literature you will include or exclude from your study, conduct your searches in a systematic and thorough manner, document your search strategy, assess the literature you locate and synthesis and present your findings in systematic way.

The University of Texas School of Public Health Library has excellent guidance materials on doing systematic literature reviews.