So what is the difference between PubMed and Medline?

For quite a while now I’ve been convinced that for practical, non-academic research purposes PubMed is the best primary database to use. (I’m also convinced you shouldn’t be using it unless 1. You’ve checked a summary site like first or 2. Your speciality is so specialised that you’ve never found anything useful doing this in the past.) I’ve always believed that the difference between PubMed and Medline was of interface – just a different way of accessing the same stuff – but now the scales have fallen from my eyes.

PubMed contains Medline – but also the PubMedCentral papers (full text articles deposited to promote open access) and articles before they get full MeSH tagging by the NLM team that organised the databases. In this way, PubMed is both wider, easier, fuller-text’d and quicker to access.

So why on earth would anyone actually use Medline?

Well, for those engaged in the obsessional land of systematic reviews, the extra benefit of MeSH tagging does, I’m assured, pick up some subtle stragglers of papers. This might – or might not – make a difference. In this regard ‘More Research Is Needed’.

But to me, on the ward / clinic / canteen, PubMed is just fine. More than Medline, in fact.

– Archi

(Gold star to the finder of the link ‘twix photo & post?)

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