A sensitive search strategy in Embase consists of Emtree terms and searches by word or phrase. By additionally searching for words that appear in title and abstract, your results will include the latest articles and articles on topics that have no suitable Emtree term.
You can indicate in which fields (title, author, journal, etc.) you would like to search for a word. Because it is not possible to search the full text articles, the most important fields to search in are: title, abstract and author keywords. These fields contain information on the content of an article.
To search for a word or phrase in a specified field, type in the word or phrase followed by the designated field code.
|Search field||Field code||Example|
The description and code of all search fields in Embase can be found in the tab 'Search Fields'. View the Ovid Search Fields Tutorial (3:23) for a demo.
When you have not specified a field code and 'Map Term to Subject Heading' is not checked, Embase will use the default field code .mp. (multi-purpose).
In Embase .mp. includes: title, abstract, keyword, original title, heading word, floating subheading word, drug trade name, drug manufacturer, device trade name, device manufacturer, candidate term word.
When searching by word, it is important to search with the various synonyms of a concept: singular, plural, British vs. American spelling, other names, etc.
If there is an Emtree term for your topic, you can find suggestions for relevant synonyms in the thesaurus (See page: Emtree > Thesaurus). These are listed under [Used for].
Some characters have a special function in Embase:
An asterisk * searches for word variations. Embase searches for words starting with the stem of the word followed by 0 to an infinite number of characters. * can only be used at the end of a word. Multiple words with an * can be combined.
Example: gene* finds gene, genes, genetic but also generation; gene* therap* finds gene therapies, and also genetic therapy.
A hash tag # is the wildcard for 1 character. # can be used within a word or at the end of a word.
Example: wom#n finds women and woman; dog# finds dogs, but not dog.
A question mark ? is the wildcard for 0 or 1 character. ? can be used within a word or at the end of a word.
Example: tumo?r finds tumour and tumor; microscop? finds microscope, microscopy, but not microscopes.
There is often a discrepancy in how a concept is described by authors and people that search for literature. If you only search by word or phrase, you will run the risk of missing items.
The example above shows that there are 7673 articles with the Emtree term 'pollen allergy', but without the phrase 'pollen allergy' in the title, abstract or author keywords. This set may include relevant articles that you were to miss, if you only search by phrase.