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What's the Difference Between Pubmed and MEDLINE

What’s the difference between Pubmed and MEDLINE? It’s a frequently asked question from biomedical researchers.

MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) is a literature database of life sciences and biomedical information. It is the world's most comprehensive source for that area - the database has more than 18 million records from approximately 5,200 selected publications from 1950 to the present. MEDLINE is maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Each record in MEDLINE is manually indexed with NLM's controlled vocabulary, the Medical Subject Headings (known as MeSH).

Pubmed is a web-based literature retrieval service and it is also provided by NLM. Pubmed provides access to lots of biomedical literature databases, and MEDLINE is the largest one among those databases. By default, Pubmed will search your terms in all of those databases. But you can also limit your search to MEDLINE only - just select MEDLINE from the Subsets menu on the Limits screen of Pubmed search interface.

According to NLM’s fact sheet, Pubmed provides following supplements in addition to MEDLINE records:

l         In-process citations which provide a record for an article before it is indexed with MeSH and added to MEDLINE or converted to out-of-scope status.

l         Citations that precede the date that a journal was selected for MEDLINE indexing (when supplied electronically by the publisher).

l         Some OLDMEDLINE citations that have not yet been updated with current vocabulary and converted to MEDLINE status.

l         Citations to articles that are out-of-scope (e.g., covering plate tectonics or astrophysics) from certain MEDLINE journals, primarily general science and general chemistry journals, for which the life sciences articles are indexed with MeSH for MEDLINE.

l         Some life science journals that submit full text to PubMed Central® and may not yet have been recommended for inclusion in MEDLINE although they have undergone a review by NLM, and some physics journals that were part of a prototype PubMed in the early to mid-1990's.

l         Citations to author manuscripts of articles published by NIH-funded researchers.

Pubmed is not the only way to search MEDLINE. You can also access MEDLINE via some third-part websites or software tools. For example, you can access MEDLINE through website EBSCO (http://www.EBSCO.com), which offers an optional graphic display of your search results. Software tools include Endnote (http://www.endnote.com) or RefNavigator (http://www.RefNavigator.com). Usually those tools provide a more efficient and powerful way to access MEDLINE. For example, RefNavigator can automatically group MEDLINE search results, show SCI Impact Factor for each record and download full-text PDF files. Furthermore, it can directly insert records into Microsoft Word and automatically generate bibliographies with different journal styles.

Now we can draw a conclusion. PubMed is just a gateway service to access MEDLINE. It provides lots of additional resources, but it’s not the only way to access MEDLINE.

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