Expert searching in foreign languages

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Systematic reviews require searching for articles beyond those in English...
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 19 May 2017


See also Grey literature | Multilingual resources for patients | Rapid evidence-assessments (REAs) | Scoping reviews | Snowballing

Expert searching refers to the many search skills that health librarians cultivate in performing advanced search and consultation support to health professionals. The ability to locate information precisely suited to clinical queries is highly coveted in the information age. In addition, health librarians are sought after for their expert skills in locating articles for systematic reviews. To immerse yourself in a discussion of the specific skills, knowledge and abilities needed for this type of expert searching, read MLA's The role of expert searching in health sciences libraries. You may also want to contact an academic health or hospital librarian to discuss what kinds of searching you want to learn. The following foreign language databases are important complementary tools for biomedical searching in English, and include various health websites that will help you to accomplish simple translation of controlled terms from one language to another. In addition, you may want to check for current MeSH translations at one of the International MEDLARS Centers.

Key websites


  • PubMed (French, Portuguese, Spanish)
PubMed is a free search tool to MEDLINE back to 1945, and a service of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine. Users can search by author, journal title, keyword or ID number. The site contains a (simplified) free-text, natural language (English only) query with spelling checker at askMEDLINE. It contains links to other NLM databases (Nucleotide, Protein, Genome, Structure, PopSet, Taxonomy, OMIM). Via Bireme, the 1993 to date information is searchable in Spanish and Portuguese.
AIM is an international index to African health literature and information sources, and a compilation of national databases with abstracts of journals, articles, monographs, technical reports and other documents. The project is a joint endeavour of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) and the World Health Organization . The keyword search engine is accessible in English, French and Portuguese.
This site contains 13 health-related databases for the Latin American and Caribbean region. Search tools are in English, Spanish and Portuguese. is a registry of federally and privately-supported clinical trials conducted around the world. It provides information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers. It contains keyword search, ‘study lists’ by condition, drug interventions, sponsors and locations and sections on investigator instructions. The registry is maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The Current Controlled Trials site is a tool to increase the availability of information about randomized controlled trials worldwide. It contains clinical trials resources: ISRCTN Register, a database of randomized controlled trials with an International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) and metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT), an International database combining registers of ongoing trials in healthcare. The site is a resource of information on research within developing countries and includes all trials approved by the WHO ethics review board.
The WHO Global Index Medicus has been developed to complement PubMed (National Library of Medicine, U.S.). The index focuses on health-related documents outside major industrialized areas. Published under WHO, it includes bibliographic information and links to full-text access.
IMSEAR is a database of citations and abstracts to articles published in selected journals of the WHO South East Asia Region. The database can be searched by title, author, and subject categories. It is maintained by the WHO Regional Office for South East Asia.
IMEMR is an international index to Eastern Mediterranean health literature. It is a database of citations and abstracts to articles published in regional journals. The site is maintained by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region Library Network.
This site provides access to IndMED, a bibliographic database of 75 Indian biomedical journals, and MedIND, a portal of links to fulltext articles in 38 journals indexed in IndMED. It includes a database of journal holdings of major medical libraries in India, links to websites and a mirror site for access to MEDLINE on the Indian sub-continent.
This is a bibliographic database that provides access to over 25,000 records on primary health care and disability in developing countries. It is a collaboration between Healthlink Worldwide, Centre for International Child Health, and Handicap International. The site can be searched by keyword, subject, country and region.
LILACS is a database that contains health related literature published in the region since 1982. It has keyword access to abstracts and citations for articles from 670 regional journals plus documents, books, scientific reports and governmental publications. The database is maintained by BIREME and is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Médecins Sans Frontières makes published research available, and requires no password. Free full-text articles and includes a search engine.
This multi-language search tool is for PubMed/MEDLINE. Users can search with Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish, medical terms or phrases and will receive citations in English. The National Library of Medicine, U.S. tool still is under development and more languages will be added in the future.
  • WHOLIS (Focus on Low-Income Countries) (French, Spanish)
WHOLIS is the World Health Organization library database of all WHO publications from 1948 onwards and articles from WHO-produced journals and technical documents from 1985 to the present. WHOLIS contains bibliographic information with subject headings and, for some records, abstracts and, for other records, full text links are available. The directory is available in Spanish and French.

Medical app for foreign language translation


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