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Ovid databases

Guide to using Ovid databases

How to do a textword search

A textword or keyword search will retrieve articles that contain your search term somewhere in the record. To carry out a comprehensive search you should search for textwords as well as searching for subject headings.

Enter a word or phrase into the search box and make sure the "Map term to subject headings" box is NOT ticked.

The following tips can help with textword searching:

  • Phrase searching: Ovid automatically searches for multiple words as a phrase. E.g. type social anxiety to search for the exact phrase, where the two words appear next to each other and in the order that you typed them. To search for multiple words, but not as a phrase, you should type AND in between the words. E.g. type social AND anxiety to search for both words, but not necessarily next to each other.
  • Select a field: it can be helpful to search for a word in a particular field. View a list of the available fields and their search codes in the Search Fields tab. E.g. to search for a word in the author field in Medline, type If you do not specify a field, most Ovid databases will default to a search in the title, abstract and keywords fields. This is indicated by the search code .mp. which stands for 'multiple purpose'. Alternatively, use the Multi-field search option to select a particular field in which to search.
  • Truncation and wildcards
    • The dollar sign $ or the asterisk * can be used to represent any number of characters at the end of a word. E.g. therap$ finds therapy, therapies, therapist, etc.
    • The hash symbol # represents just one character in the middle or at the end of a word. E.g. wom#n finds woman or women.
    • The question mark ? represents 0 or 1 character in the middle or at the end of a word. E.g. colo?r finds color or colour.
  • Proximity searching 
    • ADJn finds two words within n words of each other and in any order. E.g. cancer ADJ3 colon would find these two words where they are within three words of each other, such as colon cancer or cancer of the colon. See our video on searching using proximity operators.

Ovid: Using the Advanced search function to carry out a textword search

Ovid: Textword searching using proximity operators

Which fields to search?

When you carry out a textword or keyword search in the Advanced Search screen, by default your search will be searching multiple fields. This is explained in the following video: