Do you need to find answers to your research question quickly? Do you want to retrieve a smaller number of results that are targeted to your research question? Do you want to identify higher quality evidence from the vast amount of literature available?

If you answered ‘YES!’ to any of these questions, then there are some tips below from our Information specialists that may be able to help you:

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) used in Medline, and Emtree headings used in Embase, are controlled and hierarchically organised vocabularies used for the indexing, organising, and searching of biomedical and health-related evidence. These headings make it easier to search for evidence and allow you the option to explode or focus. Exploding allows you to retrieve results using the selected heading and all its more specific terms. Focussing allows you to limit your search to the evidence in which your subject heading is considered the major point of the article.

a. In Medline, type your keyword into the search box. The below example shows ‘diabetes mellitus’. Check the box next to Map Term to Subject Heading, and then Search.

b. On the next page, your keyword is matched to the subject heading, ‘Diabetes Mellitus’. Next to it are boxes for Explode and Focus. Check the box next to Focus, click Continue, and then Continue again on the next Subheadings page.

c. In the search history below, line 1 shows that focussing ‘Diabetes Mellitus’ retrieves 90,640 results. Exploding ‘Diabetes Mellitus’, in line 2, retrieves 470,660 results. Focussing is good search technique to use if you want to retrieve a smaller and targeted set of results.

In Medline and Embase, you can instruct the database to search for your own keyword search terms in several different fields by using two-letter abbreviations. You can find out more here.

For example, searching for ‘diabetes’ instructs the database to perform a Multipurpose search which searches for ‘diabetes mellitus’ across a number of different fields simultaneously. However, if you want to retrieve something more targeted you could, for example, search for ‘diabetes mellitus.ti’, which instructs the database to just look for your keyword in the title of the article.

In line 3, we retrieved 485,884 results by performing a Multipurpose search. In line 4, we retrieved 79,664 results by performing a Title only search.

If you need any support or assistance in using Medline and Embase, please book onto an assisted search session where you have the opportunity to discuss your research question with an information specialist, or a search training session where you can learn techniques for carrying out your own searches.

As a BMA member, you can access the Medline and Embase databases anytime to run your own searches or contact our team of information specialists in the Evidence Support team to support you in developing a search strategy or running a search on your behalf.

Medline is the world’s best-known medicine and clinical science database, holding over 25 million references, from over 5,000 journals.

Embase is a leading clinical medicine and biomedical database and holds around 28 million records.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted almost every aspect of our daily lives, and unsurprisingly in the Evidence Support team, we have noticed an increase in requests for evidence related to the pandemic and the impact it has had on different areas in the medical profession. To make it easier to find this evidence, Medline and Embase have installed a filter that can be applied to your search strategy to retrieve relevant papers.

To get started, please follow the steps below:

  1. From the library homepage, click on Access Medline and Embase. You may be prompted to login with your email and password if you haven’t already logged in to the BMA website.

2. From the window below, check the box next to OVID MEDLINE ALL or Embase, depending on which database you would like to search, and then click on OK.

3. After constructing your search strategy, locate the COVID-19 filter beneath the search box. Check the box next to it and click on Search.

4. The COVID-19 filter will then be applied to your search strategy. The below example is on how the mental health of the elderly has been affected during the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 filter has been applied on line 8.

If you need any support or assistance in using Medline and Embase, please book onto an assisted search session where you have the opportunity to discuss your research question with an information specialist, or a search training session where you can learn techniques for carrying out your own searches.

The Library Online Catalogue offers a range of options for accessing content in our e-journals collection.

We still offer an A to Z browse list of titles, but you will notice that there is now also the facility to search by category using the expandable lists of medical specialties available on the left hand side of the screen. There is also the facility to search for keywords in the title of a journal using the search box at the top of the page which as you type presents a google-like auto-complete list of suggestions based on the titles available in our collection:

You can now also search directly for journal articles from the main search page of the online catalogue. Just enter a few keywords or phrases, run the search and then limit to just journal article results using the Resource Type > Articles limiter on the left hand side navigation:

It is also possible to conduct a keyword search of articles within a particular journal. First search for and open the full record entry of the particular journal you wish to search within and then use the search box labelled Search Inside:

If you have the citation details of a particular article, in particular the DOI or PMID for it, you can use our Search by Citation facility to very quickly and easily see if it is available in our collection:

You don’t need to fill in all of the elements on the form, just enough to identify the particular article you are looking for. If you have either the DOI or the PMID of the article then just entering one of these alone should be sufficient.

If you have any comments or queries about accessing our e-journals please email:

Request access to e-books and e-journals using the Library Online Catalogue. Sign in and search or browse for the title.

To place a request for the following:

  • ebooks: enter a title, keyword, subject or ISBN
  • ejournals: enter the name of the journal or ISSN
  • articles: enter the title of the article

Available resources are displayed in the search results with an Available Online link that you can click to read online or download for later.

  • You can also sort your results by relevance, subject, resource type etc.

From the list of items, you can:

  • Click links for Full text availability (if shown) to gain access.

Interlibrary loan service​​ (Journal article requests)

If an item is not held in our collection, you can request an Inter Library Loan via this link: order an article form. We will try to obtain the article from the British Library, and then send it to you by standard email as a TIF file. For any further enquiries, please email

Our recently expanded team of Information specialists are available to help you with all your evidence and research needs, offering a range of support including tailored literature searches, assisted search sessions, structured search training sessions and setting up of current awareness alerts.

Literature searches

We offer three levels of literature searches:

  • Quick – receive 5-10 of the most up-to-date citations for one question you ask us within five working days approx.
  • Comprehensive – suitable for scoping research on any health-related topics including clinical queries, medical education, ethics, the health workforce and developments in services. Receive your sifted results within 10 working days approx.
  • Systematic Review Support – A high-level, in-depth search where we we’ll collate and provide un-sifted results for all available information on your given topic within 15 working days approx.

Find our literature search request forms on the evidence support page on the BMA website.

Assisted search session

This session offers you an opportunity to discuss your research question with an Information specialist who can offer you advice on developing and refining your search strategy.

Book a Microsoft Teams appointment with one of our Information specialists here.

Search training session

The Evidence Support team offer a structured training session for those who wish to learn techniques to carry out their own searches using Medline and Embase. You will learn how to:

  • search Medline using medical subject headings and keywords
  • structure your search using a simple step-by-step technique
  • tailor your search, whether you need to be targeted or comprehensive in scope
  • handle your results.

Book a Microsoft Teams appointment with one of our Information specialists here.

Evidence auto-alerts

We can set up a tailored alert based on your research topic to provide you with the latest evidence at the frequency you choose direct to your inbox.

Sign up by sending us your topic and search terms to

Applications for the 2022 BMA medical book awards are now open and will close on Friday 18 March 2022. 

The BMA medical book awards takes place annually to recognise outstanding contributions to medical literature. There are 15 BMA medical book awards categories available for 2022. Please click here if you would like to view the explanation for BMA medical book awards categories.

The online entry form, including conditions of entry, can be found here. All titles must have been published between January and December 2021.

The deadline for applications is Friday 18 March 2022. If you have any questions about the awards, please contact the awards team at

Google Scholar can be used to search for scholarly information on the internet, including articles, books, conference papers, and theses. Some of the results will have a link to articles that are freely available, but we have now made it possible for you to see at a glance what articles are also available through the BMA library, ensuring you don’t miss any relevant articles for your research.

To be able to access the articles, you will need to first set up access to BMA Library on your Google Scholar account by following the steps below:

  1. Navigate to the Google Scholar website on your browser: Scholar
  2. Click on the navigation menu icon
  3. Click on ‘Settings‘:
  1. Click on ‘Library links‘:
  1. Search for any of the following terms: ‘BMA Library‘, ‘British Medical Association Library‘, ‘BMA
  2. In the search results, select ‘British Medical Association Library – Access-Now@BMA-Library‘ 
  1. Click on the ‘Save’ button

After the BMA Library is added once to your Google Scholar account, when you search on Google Scholar for an article that is available on our catalogue, you will find a link titled ‘Access-Now@BMA-Library‘ next to the search result:

Clicking on the ‘Access-Now@BMA-Library‘ link directs you to our catalogue to access the full text of the article:

If you have any queries or feedback about this, please get in touch with us by email at:

Due to the COVID-19 situation and the closure of BMA House, all books that are on loan to BMA members have been automatically renewed.  There will be no charges during this period.

If you wish to return any books, there are two options available:

  1. Send the books back to us via the Post Office. (Please make sure you obtain a proof of postage receipt). Please use the book return or freepost label that was included when the book was loaned, or if you do not have these labels anymore, please use the following address:

    BMA Library, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP

2. If you would like to return loaned books personally to BMA House, you can do so by heading to the book drop box at the front of BMA House (Security) in Tavistock Square. Security is staffed Monday-Sunday 08:00-18:00.

Please be aware that BMA House remains closed to members and you can only return books to the book drop box at front of house security.