Embase: A Refresher

Embase, linked from the Library homepage under Top Databases, is a proprietary database, produced in Netherlands by Elsevier publishing company. It indexes journals in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Life Sciences, Public Health, Nursing, etc. While its coverage has significant overlap with PubMed (it actually indexes all of Medline), it also indexes a large number of international journals not found in PubMed. Embase also indexes supplements such as conference abstracts, clinical trials, and more.

Similar to PubMed’s MeSH terms, Embase also has the ability to map search terms to subject headings. Embase’s subject headings are called Emtree terms and their classification also has a hierarchical structure. One major difference between PubMed (MeSH) and Embase (Emtree) is that in PubMed narrower terms are automatically included, whereas in Embase, Emtree terms must be “exploded” to include all narrower terms found beneath a specific Emtree term.

Embase also includes some functions that are not found in PubMed, such as proximity searching, which besides AND, OR,and NOT, adds a layer to searches to make them more specific, using NEAR and NEXT.

Embase is typically one of the databases of choice used in searches when conducting a Systematic Review or a Meta-Analysis in biomedicine. It is recommended to specify the platform on which Embase was used. Embase is available on its native Elsevier platform (Embase.com) or on the OVID platform. MSKCC Library offers Embase on the Elsevier platform. The platform has an impact on the way the searches are conducted, so it is important to note when conducting systematic reviews.

Note: Starting July 1, 2021 Embase now requires signing into your Embase account to export citations to Endnote and other citation management tools. It is free to create an Embase/ Elsevier account and this login can be used for any Elsevier product (Embase, Scopus, etc.).