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Research Guides@Tufts

Advanced Searching Techniques

Advanced Searching in Ovid

To execute a search:


   Select a search type. In this example, Keyword is used. Advanced Searching mode in Ovid allows for the following search types: Keyword, Author, Title, Journal, Book Name


   Type a term or phrase, depending on the search type you selected

   Click the Search button





Limits restrict search results to selected criteria.  The most commonly used limits are listed on the main search page.  Check one or more and click Search to restrict the results of your last set. Enter the set number and do likewise to limit an earlier set.

  • Limits on both the Main Search page and the Additional Limits page are combined with AND.
  • On the Additional Limits page, Ovid combines limits within the boxes with OR.
    • Select several limits in a box with Ctrl+click.
  • Check Review Articles for surveys of the literature with extensive bibliographies

Ovid Operators

Ovid processes search queries from left to right.  To specify precedence, enclose terms and operators in parentheses within your search statement.  You can nest and combine a search statement with the following Boolean operators:


 retrieves any or all of the search terms [Example: heart attack OR myocardial infarction]

AND  retrieves records with only both search terms [Example: blood pressure AND stroke]
NOT excludes second term, only retrieves records for first [Example: health reform NOT health policy]
ADJ searches for words adjacent to each other and only separated by a single space [Example: blood adj pressure]
ADJn searches for terms that are a specified number (n) spaces away from each other [Example: physician adj5 relationship]
FREQ specify a term's threshold of occurrence in the records retrieved.  The syntax for this is "x.fd./freq=n" where fd is the 2 letter field name, and n is the frequency. [Example: ]


Example: (blood adj pressure) AND (heart attack OR myocardial infarction)

Subject Headings

What is a subject heading?

Subject headings are standardized terms used to describe the topics covered in that database.  For example, MEDLINE uses MeSH (Medical Sujbect Headings). Articles about a topic are tagged with the appropriate subject headings, if available, whether or not the exact words of that subject heading are used in the article.  Articles will be tagged with a subject heading even if the article uses some synonyms, spelling variations (e.g., British spelling), or different word endings (e.g., plural).  Keep in mind, mapping to subject headings is not perfect, so employing other search techniques is also useful.

Applying subject headings

When searching in one database at a time in Ovid, you have the option to select "Map Term to Subject Heading" which means that Ovid will attempt to find a subject heading related to the keywords you have typed in the search box.


After inputting a keyword and clicking "Search," Ovid will suggest subject headings based on the keyword you entered.  Click on the "i" under "scope" to see more information about the subject heading.  Your original keyword will be listed last, followed by the command ".mp."

Truncation and Wildcards

 Use * , $ , or at the end of a word, or part of a word to retrieve unlimited suffix variations   [Example: disease* for diseases, diseased, etc.]
  Use # on the inside or at the end of a word to replace exactly one character  [Example:  wom#n]
 Use ? inside or at the end of a word to replace zero or one character  [Example: robot?]


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