5 Best Medical Search Engines

A medical journal search engine allows you to find information and literature about any medical or life science-related topic. Instead of searching primary resources for information, you find everything in one place. Medical search engines include several medical databases, such as EMBASE, MEDLINE, and MedlinePlus.

But what medical search engines exist, and which are the best ones?

1. Pubmed

Pubmed has been available online since 1996 and is the most popular and best known medical search engine. It is free to use and allows you to search for biomedical and life sciences literature. It also covers related fields such as bioengineering, behavioral sciences, and chemical sciences. 

The database contains more than 30 million entries. It includes citations and abstracts but no full-text articles. But when full texts are available, it provides a link to the publisher’s website.

Pubmed allows you to search through several resources of the  U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM):


MEDLINE primarily contains citations from journals with articles that are indexed with MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). 

PubMed Central (PMC)

PubMed Central (PMC) contains full-text articles from journals that have been selected by NLM for archiving. 


Bookshelf is an archive of books and reports within the biomedical and life sciences field.

2. ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect is a medical search engine that allows you to find articles from medical journals that are owned by Elsevier. Elsevier is an academic publisher for more than 2,500 medical journals, containing only peer-reviewed publications.

You can find 16M articles and 39,000 ebooks through ScienceDirect. You need a login for most full-text articles, but some are freely available without a login.

3. OpenMD

OpenMD is a medical search engine that browses information from medical journals available in PubMed. Collaborating with medical professionals worldwide provides high-quality information from reputable sources. But OpenMD is not only a medical search engine but also one of the best medical dictionaries offering many links to further reliable resources.

4. Cochrane Library 

The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence. Healthcare decision-makers use the provided evidence to make informed decisions.

The Cochrane Library consists of three parts:

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the primary database for systematic reviews in the medical field.

Cochrane reviews contain only peer-reviewed systematic reviews. Cochrane has very stringent guidelines that apply to all of their reviews. 

Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)

The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) contains reports of randomized controlled trials. These kinds of trials provide the highest level of evidence.

Cochrane Clinical Answers

Cochrane reviews are very long documents – healthcare professionals have to make decisions without reading the entire review. To solve this problem, Cochrane Clinical Answers (CCAs) contains information that is easily accessible and understandable. It includes clinical questions, a short answer, and data that are relevant for healthcare professionals.

5. Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free search engine that is part of Google. When you use Google regularly, you won’t notice a big difference when using Google scholar. It allows you to search scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources from a variety of databases.

The bottom line

For many medical researchers and writers, PubMed is the only medical search engine. It is popular for a good reason: It allows you to easily find publications from most medical journals. But complementing your search with other medical search engines gives you even more and sometimes better results. 

As a science or medical writer, using multiple resources gives you an edge over other searchers who only use PubMed. It is a great way to increase the quality of your health content.

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