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Health Sciences: Databases/help using databases

Key Databases

Planning a Literature Search

This interactive learning object shows you how to prepare your search strategy before you start searching the databases.

Subject Heading Searching

Subject headings are descriptive terms added to databases such as Medline and CINAHL to describe articles. One single subject heading is used to describe a concept, e.g. stroke for cerebrovascular accident or CVA. This means you don't need to worry about variation in spelling or jargon.

Using subject headings usually means you will find more relevant results. 

However, not all concepts neatly fit a subject heading, so you may have to do a combination of free text searching and subject headings.

See the link below for a tutorial on using subject headings.

Web of Science

Web of Science Citation Searching

Web of Science lets you search for other publications that cite an author's work.

Working Off-Campus

When you are using online resources, such as ebooks, journals and databases off-campus, you will need to use VPN (Virtual Private Network), which lets you open things as if you are on campus.

The University's VPN is called Global Protect. You can find instructions on using Global Protect here.

Open Athens

Full-time undergraduate and PGDip Health Sciences are entitled to an NHS Open Access account. You will be registered for this at the start of your course.

If you have forgotten your password or have any other queries about Open Access, please email

Remember, the university has access to lots of journals and books. If you are off-campus, follow the information about the Southampton Virtual Environment.

Supplementary databases