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Literature searching for Medical and Dental Sciences

Activity 3E: ProQuest Databases

ProQuest: Collections and Databases


ProQuest supply a wide range of subject databases on their online platform.  These are often grouped into broad subject collections, but can be accessed and searched individually. 

  • For detailed or systematic literature reviews, it is recommended to search one database at a time
  • For a broader search (such as Scoping), one option is to go to the whole Proquest platform then select a database collection or range


Health and Medicine is a broader collection.  This includes Medline, which is also available to UoB users on the Ovid platform (see Activity 3A in this guide).  The Nursing and Allied database is also part of Health and Medicine, with similar coverage to the EBSCO database CINAHL (Activity 3C).  A separate Coronavirus Research Database, comprising openly available material, can be found by going to the A-Z list of databases on the Proquest platform.


The Biological Science database offers an intersection for those studying Biosciences, Biomedical Science or those aspects of Medicine.  It forms part of the Natural Science collection. 

Social Science

The Applied Social Science Index and Abstracts (ASSIA) is very useful when dealing with medical topics with a public health or sociological dimension.  This forms part of the Sociology collection.

Database Links and Guides

See below for links to databases. These are via FindIt@Bham and accessible only for University of Birmingham students and staff.

Following these are links to openly available guides from the supplier, Proquest.

Database Links

Links may open in new browser tabs or windows.

Supplier guides

Links may open in new browser tabs or windows.

ProQuest Platform

It is also possible to go in at platform level, ie the whole ProQuest collection, and then select specific collections or individual databases.  Care should be taken to identify the required database(s) however and not simply to search the whole platform.  For systematic-style reviews, individual databases should be chosen in preference to a cross-search of the whole platform or collections.  If collections are chosen, then the individual databases within the collection(s) should be noted and identified in the piece of work.

From the landing page within ProQuest, go to Change Databases. 

View by Subject produces a list of collections which can be opened up to show individual databases and sub-collections. 

  • From here the required choice(s) can be made and the search carried out
  • To switch between databases, use Change Databases
  • This will retain the search terms within Basic Search, and the search can simply be repeated

Change Databases on ProQuest platform

Health and Medicine Databases databases on ProQuest platform:

ProQuest health and medical databases list (part)


Basic or Advanced

The Proquest platform offers either Basic or Advanced search options. 

  • The Advanced Search is more effective for structuring a search and should be used for a more systematic or rigorous literature review.
  • Basic Search is useful for a quick check for available material.
  • Key search techniques can be used in both Basic and Advanced
    • Use Boolean operators, especially AND to narrow a search, and OR to bring synonyms or related terms together
    • Truncation - the * or asterisk - to search for variant words with the same stem: educat* for education, educated, educators and so on

Working topic: 

  • Investigating vaccine hesitancy or refusal

Basic Search: 

  • In the Basic Search screen, enter:
    • vaccin* AND (hesitan* or uptake or reject* or refus*)
    • This uses: OR; AND; brackets to group the OR search keywords together; truncation (*)
    • See our Effective Search Techniques guide for more detail on these methods

Basic search screen with example

Try this search in different databases - such as ASSIA, Biological Science - and compare the results.

In Advanced Search

The Advanced Search screen allows you to set up different lines of search. This differentiates more clearly between the 'ORs' and 'ANDs'.  Alternatives or synonyms can be kept together on one line. Other aspects of the overall topic can then be put into other lines, with the Boolean AND set to connect the separate lines.  Again, see our Effective Search Techniques guide for more detail on Boolean operators and other techniques.  

This uses the same topic as the Basic search before, of "Investigate vaccine hesitancy or refusal".

In the Advanced search screen, enter:


AND (hesitant or uptake or reject* or refus*)

Advanced search screen in Proquest, with example


Advanced search options

Use 'Modify search' to go back to the search you first set up: you can then try the following.

Add a row

  • Extra rows can be added for further aspects of the topic.  This is useful, but if you start with several lines of search at once then it is likely to narrow down your set of results too much - or reduce it to zero!  Try building up instead.  

'Not full text'?

  • See the drop-down menus at the further right of the search screen
  • These are set by default to 'Anywhere except full text - NOFT'
  • Try changing this to 'Anywhere' for a broader set of results.  'except full text' concentrates on fields outside the main body of the article such as title, abstract

'Limit to'

  • Look at the options on the left of the screen after you've performed a search and try, for example, limiting to 'Peer reviewed' or 'Scholarly journals' or other features such as Publication date (choose a range), language, location etc.

elow is an example with 'Modify search' used to 'Add a row' for: "'older adult' or senior or elder* or aged".

Advanced search with added row and limit box ticked for 'peer reviewed'


In this case, the date filter for 'last 12 months' has been used to narrow results to the most current.  This is useful for currency (the most recent research on a very topical subject) but possibly too limiting otherwise.

Advanced search results filtered by 'last 12 months'



  • Some databases in Proquest may have a Thesaurus option or options.  These are indexing terms which can be built into a search to retrieve relevant items

In Advanced search

  • Select Thesaurus and choose from the listed Thesaurus options (there may only be one)
  • Within the Thesaurus, locate the required thesaurus term
  • There may be an Explode option to include narrower headings nested within the broader term selected.  This is similar to MeSH or medical headings on databases on the Ovid platform, for example (Medline etc)
  • Select Add to Search at the bottom of the screen: this will include the term in your search strategy
  • Now perform your search and view the resulting items

Thesaurus search in ASSIA


Thesaurus term added to search bar in advanced search


Thesaurus term added to search with retrieved items


Please watch this Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre (includes sub-titles).  This uses ASSIA (Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts), but the essential search principles will be the same for other ProQuest databases.

Please watch this Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre (includes sub-titles).  This uses the ProQuest Social Science Premium Collection of databases, but the essential search principles will be the same for other ProQuest collections.

Saving results to referencing software

Individual items or sets can be saved to referencing software such as EndNote Online. 

  • A standard method, independent of which software programme is preferred, is to download an RIS file of the required items.  The downloaded file can then be imported into the software programme, such as EndNote Online
  • Note that it may be necessary to save the results first to the My Research area, for which it will be necessary to create an account (for details see further below on this page)
  • If you experience difficulties exporting results, try a different browser

Watch this Panopto video from the Academic Skills Centre, UoB (includes sub-titles) on saving from the ASSIA database to EndNote Online.  The principles will be the same for other Proquest databases.

Introduction to My Research

My Research is a tool that you can use to save, manage, and organise the content and supporting materials you find and create in ProQuest.  You can include documents, searches, search alerts, RSS feeds, and more in My Research.  Setting up a My Research account is simple and free to all ProQuest users.

MyResearch page

Sign Up for My Research

1. Click on the profile icon and select the Sign into My Research link (located in the upper, right-hand corner of any page in the ProQuest platform) to create an account or sign into an existing account.

2. The link to Create a My Research account is below the link to Sign Into My Research

3. To create an account, just fill in the required fields: email address, password, and confirm password. 

Please note: RefWorks is no longer available to University of Birmingham members.

MyResearch, Create an Account page

My Research - features

Once you create a My Research account, you will have access to the following items (located in tabs when you are signed in):

Documents – Save, view, and organise ProQuest documents. 

Searches – Save searches to provide easy future access to search strategies and results.

Alerts – Manage any alerts that you create while logged in to My Research.

RSS feeds – Manage any RSS feeds that you create while logged in to My Research.

Account – Adjust your account settings and preferences to personalise your ProQuest search experience. One great preference you can take advantage of is to create a short-cut to your favourite databases so that when you login in via My Research, your favourite databases are bundled together and pre-selected for you. 

Important to know: My Research accounts will be permanently closed after three years of inactivity.

Next to the My Research sign in tab, you will also have access to the Widgets tab. You don't have to be signed in to a My Research account to use the Widgets tab. Anyone can create and embed ProQuest search boxes in web pages and subject guides to make new access points to ProQuest.

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