eGuide: Medical science information sources

Last updated: November 2018

Searching for books

There are two key library catalogues you will need to use when studying at Cambridge:

  • Girton Library catalogue (Heritage) – search Girton Library’s collection and see if items are available or already on loan. See our eGuide for further information.
  • iDiscover – search across the University’s print and electronic collections (including books, eBooks, journals, newspapers, articles and much more). Most, but not all, of Girton’s library books can be found here. See our eGuide for further information.

You will be able to borrow books from Girton’s Main Library, the University Library and you may also wish to use the Medical Library. There are access and borrowing restrictions based on the year of study.

Search Spacefinder to find other places of study within Cambridge.


Searching medical databases

Find links to databases and journals in LibGuides. Alternatively, use the list of databases for literature searching (Medical Library).  Some key examples include:

MEDLINE – access via Raven or NHSAthens. Contains over 24 million references to journal articles in life sciences, with a concentration in biomedicine. Covers research, administration, policy issues and clinical practice. Search by index terms, synonyms and subject headings found in the online MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) thesaurus.

PubMed – biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Includes citations and links to full-text, where available. Also, see PubMed books shelf.

Teach yourself guide

Scopus – describes itself as the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. It includes 50 million records from over 21,000 journals (including all the journals covered by Medline). 70% of records include an abstract, and there are links to full-text where available.

Web of Science via Raven Multi-disciplinary database, including links to Citation Indexes (citing articles) and Journal Impact Factors.

For other databases for literature searching go here


Teach yourself guide

EMBASE –  provides access to the Exerpta Medica database. This covers drug-related research literature in the following areas: pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine, and biomedical engineering/instrumentation.

Teach yourself guide – Searching the Evidence in the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library – brings together the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and their database of abstracts of reviews of effects, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Methodology Register, the Health Technology Assessment Database and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database.


Teach yourself guide

Instant Anatomy – provides links to the different parts of the body, to Lectures, MCQs, video podcasts and podcasts.


Finding eBooks

Find eBooks on iDiscover. For further information read an introduction to eBooks or read the guidance on finding and using eBooks. Example eBooks:


Searching websites

For information on searching for websites, see eGuide: Effective internet searching. An introduction to websites aimed specifically at medical students is available from the Virtual Training Suite. It includes useful links (on subjects ranging from anatomy to the World Health Organisation) plus strategies for successful searching on the web.

One of the easiest ways to discover information of academic value on the internet is to use one of the many subject-related gateways or hubs, e.g.:


Help within College

Library staff can provide support and assistance. You can book an appointment with Library staff or ask a question via The Colleges’ Fellow for Study Skills will also be able to help.


Help within Cambridge

Teach yourself guides
University of Cambridge training programmes
Eresources and Ejournals

Help With Electronic Resources

Jenny Blackhurst
t: +44 (0) 1223 338970