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Education And Debate

ABC of Medical Computing: ONLINE SEARCHING

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 19 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:500
  1. Jane Rowlands,
  2. Terry Morrow,
  3. Nicholas Lee,
  4. Andrew Millman

    Searching for references is part of everyday life in medicine. If your computer is equipped with a modem and communications software you can now do online searches without needing to visit a library. Online searching refers to the use of information sources held on remote computer systems, perhaps the most popular of which is Medline.

    The BMA library runs a Medline service for BMA members, which is available 24 hours a day through a modem and also through the Internet or Joint Academic Network (JANET). The Medline database runs on a modern PC with a very large hard disk in the library. The computer is connected to a number of telephone lines so up to 20 people can dial in and access the system simultaneously. BMA members can access the Medline database at no cost apart from normal telephone charges. You will, however, need to apply to the library for a password before using the system.

    BMA's Medline system.

    Accessing the BMA library Medline system

    The following description is based on the OVID (3.0) DOS version of the system interface. It is best to use Norton pcAnywhere to access the BMA's Medline service as this gives best performance but you can also use any standard communications program. The commands vary slightly depending on the program that you use but clear instructions are always given on the screen. When you log on to the database you need to type IBMOVID if you have Norton pcAnywhere or VTOVID if you have other communications software.

    Initial search screen in Medline

    Searching Medline

    To carry out a search on a particular subject, type the relevant term or phrase at the cursor prompt. The system will attempt to map your word(s) to relevant standard terms, known as medical subject headings (MeSH). Medline, which is produced by the United States National Library of Medicine, …

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