WEBTREATS: Searching MEDLINE on OvidSP via ACOG Members' Site

This list, prepared by Resource Center Librarians from other sources, is provided for information only.   Referral to these sites does not imply the endorsement of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of either the organization or their contents, expressed views, programs, or political activities.   Further, the College does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available from these organizations or on these websites. This list is not meant to be comprehensive; the exclusion of a site does not reflect the quality of that site.  Please note that sites and URLs are subject to change without warning. Many of these pages provide basic information but have links with more detailed information and resources.  MASH 4/14/2016

Hint: Before you start, print out these OvidSP Quick Reference Card or the Quick Reference Guide to help you prepare your searches. 

Searching MEDLINE on OvidSP requires these steps:  Logging on to Ovid, selecting a database, developing a search strategy in the selected database, viewing results, and printing, e-mailing, or saving the search results.  In this example, we will search MEDLINE to find a key early article on VBAC published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Logon to the OvidSP Website from the ACOG website by selecting Information on the menu bar, then selecting Search OvidSP (you will need to login to the members' website before access to OVIDSP will be allowed).

On the Select a database  page (e.g. click on MEDLINE 1950 to current Month Week 2009).  We usually start with this complete MEDLINE database and limit our results by year later.  Click on icon to the left of the database name to learn more about its contents, special features, and  searching tips. 

Prepare the search strategy:   You can search for authors, title words, journal titles, subject heading (MeSH), or combinations of these.  After entering your terms, click on the Search button to run your search.  If you are a new Ovid user, you may find using other search features such as Basic Search easier than using the Advanced Ovid Search box.  Also try the Help icon if you are not sure what to do next.

Title Search:   Either type a title word followed by .ti. in the search box (e.g. vbac.ti.) OR click on the Title radio button above the search filed and type in your title word.  Advanced tips: Use the wild card to increase results (e.g. birth$.ti. will retrieve birth, births, birthing…).  Use adjacency to find articles with words close together (e.g. vaginal adj birth.ti. will find articles with “vaginal birth” in title).

Author Search:   Either type in the last name and initials followed by .au. in the search box (e.g. Mahon-m-j.au.) OR click on Author radio button above the search field, type in the last name and initials, and select the names that you want to search.

Journal Search: Click on the Journal radio button above the search field: Type in the first few letters of the journals name and perform search.   Check the box beside the journal in question and perform search (e.g. type New England Journal and select the New England Journal of Medicine).

Subject search:   If you type a subject in the search box, OvidSP will automatically map the subject to MeSH, Medical Subject Headings, the official subject headings used in MEDLINE.  For example, typing in vbac - without a qualifier - maps to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.  The MeSH term can be selected and searched to expand your search results.  The Mapping Display page also includes these useful features to further refine your search:

Explode: Exploding a term will include the related, more specific term (e.g. Exploding Cesarean Section will include Cesarean Section, Repeat).

Focus: Focusing a MeSH term will limit your results to those articles in which the subject is a major point of the article.

Scope Note: The Scope Note is the National Library of Medicine's "definition" of the term.  This information also includes the year of entry for the term in question, other terms that may be related, and previous indexing terms.

MeSH Tree: Clicking on the MeSH term will bring up the MeSH Tree, a display of broader, narrower, and related MeSH terms.  Select some of these to expand your search results if needed.

To combine sets, either type the search statement numbers and boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) (e.g. 1 and 2) OR expand the search history and select your search statements, choose AND or OR and click on search.

Applying Limits:  Limit your search results by either selecting options from the Limits section below the search field.  Searches are usually limited to human and English, but many other options are available.

View the titles of your results by scrolling down your screen OR by clicking on display next to the search statement.  Click on the individual citation to view the abstract, the entire MEDLINE record, or the fulltext of the article, if available.

To print, save, or email the citations, use Results Manager, on the left of the OvidSP display page.   Select the citations and the format to print them.  To print, select display from the Actions and use your browsers print feature to print the results.  To email, select email from the Actions and enter a valid email address at the email citations to.  To save, select save from the Actions and your browser’s save utility will be activated.

Want to learn more?  Try these Ovid tutorials

Ovid Online Training

Accessing Ovid for Members


Mary Hyde
Senior Director

Beth DeFrancis Sun
Special Collections Librarian

Jean Riedlinger
Reference Librarian


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188
Mailing Address: PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20024-9998