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Embase (English): From PubMed to Embase

This LibGuide offers an overview of the various search options of the biomedical database Embase on the Ovid platform.

Step-by-step: Translating a PubMed search to Embase

Are you planning to do an additional search in Embase based on a PubMed search strategy? This step-by-step plan can guide you with the translation:

  1. Check your PubMed search strategy.
      See Tab 1. Search check (in the Box: Explanation step-by-step plan)

Translating a PubMed search strategy to Embase differs between the MeSH terms and searches by word.

  1. MeSH terms are replaced by corresponding Emtree terms.
      See Tab 2. From MeSH to Emtree (in the Box: Explanation step-by-step plan)
  2. For searches by word replace the PubMed specific field codes by the field codes that are used in Embase.
      See Tab 3. Search by word (in the Box: Explanation step-by-step plan)

TipComplicated search strategy? First, break down your PubMed search strategy into the separate concepts (e.g. PICO or DDO). Then, convert the MeSH terms and searches by word separately for each concept.

  1. If you have used a filter in PubMed to limit your results, you can use limits in Embase.
      Page: Limits

Important

A translated PubMed (or MEDLINE) search may yield much higher numbers in Embase. This has several causes:

  • Embase includes conference abstracts in its collection, in contrast to PubMed and MEDLINE.
    • Is this publication type not relevant?
        See page: Limits to exclude this publication type
  • Embase assigns more Emtree terms to articles.
    An article in Embase has an average of 40 Emtree terms, while an article in PubMed is assigned an average of 'only' 20 MeSH terms.
    • Does the Emtree term yield much more and irrelevant results compared to the MeSH term equivalent?
        Search with the Emtree term in focus (See page: Emtree > Thesaurus).

TipBy entering the search concepts separately in Embase and PubMed and comparing numbers, you can quickly see whether a difference in numbers is due to a specific search concept or search term.

Explanation step-by-step plan

  • Is your PubMed search strategy sensitive and specific enough (i.e. not too many irrelevant or too few relevant articles)?
      Check our PubMed LibGuide for tips.
  • The Medical Library can also peer review your search strategy.
      Contact us via the page: Contact & Feedback.

MEDLINE Ovid logoDo you have a MEDLINE (Ovid) search strategy that you would like to translate to Embase?
Follow our Step-by-step plan: Translating a PubMed search to Embase. Translating a Medline search to Embase is easier, because Medline and Embase have the same interface (Ovid).
The tabs in this box also provide extra tips for each step for MEDLINE users.

  • What is the difference between PubMed and MEDLINE? Check our PubMed LibGuide.

MeSH terms cannot be translated to Emtree terms in a one-to-one fashion, because PubMed and Embase each have their own thesaurus (system for keywords). You will need to manually look up relevant Emtree terms for each search concept.

The page Emtree explains how to look up Emtree terms.

ImportantNote the following differences between PubMed and Embase:

  • A single MeSH term can have multiple Emtree terms as equivalent (and vice versa).
    Example: PubMed has one MeSH term for bladder cancer (Urinary Bladder Neoplasms[MeSH]), whereas Embase has multiple Emtree terms: bladder tumor/, bladder cancer/, bladder carcinoma/ etc.
  • Narrower terms are not automatically included in Embase.
    Example: When searching with Hand[MeSH] the underlying narrower terms: Fingers[MeSH] and Wrist[MeSH] are automatically included in the search. This feature can be turned off in PubMed, if so desired. Embase works the other way around; you have to specifically indicate that narrower terms are to be included (to include all narrower terms, check Explode).
  • The narrower terms of an Emtree term may differ from the MeSH term equivalent.
    Example: In PubMed, Wrist[MeSH] is a narrower term of Hand[MeSH], while in Embase wrist/ is placed at equal level with hand/ and both terms are narrower terms of arm/.

MEDLINE Ovid logo  Tip for MEDLINE users
The MeSH terms in MEDLINE are identical to the MeSH terms in PubMed. The explanation given above also applies to the translation of MeSH terms in MEDLINE to Emtree terms in Embase. There is one exception: in both Embase and MEDLINE narrower terms are not automatically included.

When you have written out the searches by word for PubMed, you can easily convert them to Embase by replacing the field codes with the find and replace function (ctrl + H) in Microsoft Word. Irrespective of whether an article is found in PubMed or Embase, the words from the title and abstract remain the same.

View the page Search by Word for more search options in Embase.

*In PubMed author keywords are included in the [tiab] search.
PubMed Embase Search fields
[ti] .ti. title
[tiab] .ti,ab,kf. title, abstract and author keywords*
[ot] .kf. author keywords
[tw] .mp. broad search
[tw] (= title, abstract, other abstract, MeSH terms, MeSH subheadings, publication types, substance names, personal name as subject, corporate author, secondary source, comment/correction notes, and other terms)
.mp. (= title, abstract, keyword, original title, heading word, floating subheading word, drug trade name, drug manufacturer, device trade name, device manufacturer, candidate term word)
[all fields] .af. all search fields

MEDLINE Ovid logo  Tip for MEDLINE users
To search by word, Embase uses the same field codes as MEDLINE, so searches by word in MEDLINE can be copy-pasted to Embase.

An overview of Embase field codes is presented in the tab Search Fields in Embase (See box: Search fields).

Exercise: Translate the PubMed or MEDLINE search strategy to Embase

Exercise You are writing a review on the deteriorating hand function in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In PubMed you have used the following search strategy:

( Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy[MeSH] OR Duchenne[tiab] OR DMD[tiab] )
AND
(
Forearm[Mesh] OR Hand[Mesh] OR Forearm[tiab] OR Forearms[tiab] OR Wrist[tiab] OR Wrists[tiab] OR Hand[tiab] OR Hands[tiab] OR Finger[tiab] OR Fingers[tiab] OR Thumb[tiab] OR Thumbs[tiab] OR Metacarp*[tiab] )

However, PubMed returns very few relevant articles, and you decide to additionally search Embase for extra publications. How would you translate the PubMed search strategy to Embase?

Exercise You are writing a review on the deteriorating hand function in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In MEDLINE you have used the following search strategy:

( Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne/ OR (Duchenne OR DMD).ti,ab,kf. )
AND
(
Forearm/ OR exp Hand/ OR (Forearm OR Forearms OR Wrist OR Wrists OR Hand OR Hands OR Finger OR Fingers OR Thumb OR Thumbs OR Metacarp*).ti,ab,kf. )

However, MEDLINE returns very few relevant articles, and you decide to additionally search Embase for extra publications. How would you translate the MEDLINE search strategy to Embase?

A suitable Embase search strategy for this topic is:

( Duchenne muscular dystrophy/ OR (Duchenne OR DMD).ti,ab,kf. )
AND
( forearm/ OR exp hand/ OR wrist/ OR (Forearm OR Forearms OR Wrist OR Wrists OR Hand OR Hands OR Finger OR Fingers OR Thumb OR Thumbs OR Metacarp*).ti,ab,kf. )

Explanation In PubMed (and MEDLINE) Wrist[MeSH] is a narrower term of Hand[MeSH], and is therefore automatically included when searching with Hand[MeSH] (or exp Hand/ in MEDLINE). In Embase, the Emtree term wrist/ is not a narrower term of hand/, but of arm/. Therefore, wrist/ needs to be added separately.