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Covid-19 resources

Academic material

Library Services, University of Birmingham

Online guides are available on literature searching techniques and medical databases such as Ovid Medline, and other resources. It is important to plan and carry out a literature search using a clear structure and with accredited resources.  Bibliographic databases index peer-reviewed journals, use subject-specific indexing systems in the case of Medline (and its open-web PubMed interface), Embase and other health databases.  The following online guides from Library Services at the University of Birmingham detail search techniques and outline available resources. Please consult these before carrying out a search if you are at all unsure, or as a refresher.

NB: Access to e-resources such as Ovid Medline and subscription journals will depend on membership of University of Birmingham or other academic institutions.

To search freely available, open-access biomedical journal articles, PubMed has a filter for free full text material.

The Wellcome Foundation has issued a major statement with multiple organisations as signatories:

From the University of Birmingham:

No system is perfect.  Notice the expression of concern for a previously accepted Lancet article, and commentary on the investigative journalism that revealed the flawed process in this case: the following are from the Lancet journal and Guardian newspaper respectively.

Research Bodies

College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham (UK)

National Institutes of Health (USA)

UK Research and Innovation (formerly the UK Research Council)

  • Coronavirus: the science explained .  " lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control.  (...) evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control. Please note, they are not intended as a source of health advice or official policy"


Office for National Statistics

Open access material

BMJ (British Medical Journal)

Cambridge University Press


Lancet journal

New England Journal of Medicine

Oxford University Press


  • Coronavirus Research Database: openly available materials
  • Locate within Proquest A-Z database listing
  • NB: Proquest platform may require institutional login

Springer Nature


Database searching

The following are subscription databases provided to University of Birmingham staff and students. Check your own institution for availability, or the NHS (Athens login) via Evidence Search. Health Education England (Library and Knowledge Services) have also put together a COVID-19 search bank of related topic searches and strategies.

Medical databases use subject headings. Use the Scope note to check definitions, and click on headings to show the hierarchical subject tree.

Medline (Ovid) - core biomedical database 

  • Medical subject heading (MeSH): Covid-19.  Broader term: Coronavirus infections.  Also available: pandemics, human, infection control (broader term: communicable disease control)
  • Freetext keywords: Novel coronavirus, Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, nCoV-2, Coronavirus 2019.  See the 'Used for' list in the Scope note for Covid-19

Embase (Ovid) - pharmacology / pharmacy emphasis: essential for drug therapy research

  • Subject heading (Emtree): coronavirus disease 2019.  Broader term: coronavirus infection.  Also available: pandemic, communicable disease
  • Freetext keywords: Novel coronavirus, Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, 2019-nCoV disease (etc).  See the 'Used for' list on the subject heading break-down for 'coronavirus disease 2019'.

CINAHL - nursing and allied health: for any aspects of nursing and related health care

  • Suggested headings and search terms: see Medline

Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (Proquest) - strong on social sciences, public health and social welfare

  • Suggested search terms: use above as freetext only (no medical subject headings)

Web of Science

  • All Databases, or Core Collection: useful multi-disciplinary database platform with forward citation-searching facility


  • Elsevier multi-disciplinary database, especially strong on Science areas
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