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Library Services



Cochrane Library

A guide to searching and using the Cochrane Library

Searching the Cochrane Library

There are three ways to explore the contents of the Cochrane Library: Basic search, Browse and Advanced search. Access the options at the top right of the homepage.

Screenshot of the Cochrane Library homepage

Advanced Search: we recommend using Advanced search for the best results. It allows you to carry out a comprehensive search, to develop a detailed search strategy and to take advantage of both textword and thesaurus searching. The Advanced search window consists of four tabs:

  • Search - for up to 5 lines of textword searches.
  • Search manager - for textword searches, MeSH searches and to combine searches. It allows you to build a detailed search and is our recommended option.
  • Medical terms (MeSH) - for thesaurus-only searches.
  • PICO search - this service is still in development and so it is not covered in detail in this guide. More information about PICO search is available on the Cochrane website.

Screenshot of the Cochrane Advanced search page

Visit other sections of this guide for detailed instructions about using Advanced search to do textword searches and thesaurus searches.

Basic Search: to do a basic search, simply type search terms into the search box on the Cochrane Library homepage and click the Search button. The Basic search option allows for a quick search but is not recommended for comprehensive or in-depth searches as you are likely to miss relevant items. 

Browse: one final option is to browse the contents of the Cochrane Library, rather than searching. Click Browse underneath the basic search box on the homepage. A list of broad topic areas will be displayed. Click on a topic of interest to see which items in the database have been allocated to that topic area. From the Cochrane Library homepage you can also scroll down to browse the Cochrane Library Special Collections, curated content covering a small selection of focused topics.