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Searching Embase: Introduction

Created by Health Science Librarians

What is Embase?

Embase is a subscription database from Elsevier that provides biomedicine literature.  

subject areas within Embase and their percentages

  • Embase is provided by Elsevier and includes literature in the MEDLINE database from the National Library of Medicine, in addition to almost 3,000 other journals and over 11,500 conferences.
  • It contains journal articles, conference papers and abstracts and reports in biomedicine dating back to 1947.  
  • Embase has advanced indexing of drug literature to enable detailed searches on any drug study question or aspect of drug information.  
  • Embase is indexed using Emtree subject headings, similar to the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms in PubMed to help you find all the relevant articles on a topic.

Learn more about Embase 

                the Embase home page

When to search Embase

For drug/pharmacy topics and medical devices:

Embase has strong coverage of pharmacy, pharmaceutical, and pharmacological research.  The subject headings system in Embase (Emtree) not only includes the generic names for drugs and chemicals, but also their trade names and laboratory/research codes, and thousands of terms for  medical devices. As of 2021, there are 86,000 preferred terms in Emtree with almost 400,000 synonyms and 66 drug subheadings. 

For conference literature:

Embase includes abstracts and papers from biomedical, drug and medical device conferences back to 2009. As of 2021, Embase includes over 3.6 million conference abstracts from 11,500 conferences. 

When conducting comprehensive literature searches or systematic reviews:

Use Embase alongside PubMed for in-depth, literature-based research on biomedical topics. Embase is an ideal complement to PubMed for literature searches of more than one database. There are almost 3,000 journals that are unique to Embase and the detailed indexing of citation records means even papers also in other databases may be easier to find in Embase. 

To quickly answer interventional questions: 

The Embase PICO search makes it easier to quickly find the most relevant studies that match your question's Patient Population, Intervention, any Comparison Intervention, and Outcomes. This search tool will help you identify the best search terms and synonyms for each PICO element and create a detailed search strategy to find the primary and secondary literature. 

How to Access Embase

There is a link to Embase on the Health Sciences Library's home page.   (

Select Embase on this page, or on other UNC Libraries pages. Because Embase is a subscription resource, you will need to access it via the UNC Libraries' link.  

HSL homepage with Embase link highlighted


All articles in Embase will have a Find @ UNC button to connect you to the full-text PDF. When the article is not available online in the UNC Libraries collections, the Find @ UNC button links to a page with options to look for a print copy in the library catalog or to request the article via Interlibrary Loan.     

Find @ UNC button


Create an Elsevier Account

As of June 2021, you must have an Elsevier account to bulk export citations/search results from Embase. If you are signed in to your free Elsevier account the option to export citations will be available after you run any search. if you are not signed in or do not have an account, the option will not be available to export citation data. 

To create an Elsevier account, click on the "Sign in" button in the top left corner of the window. 

The Embase "Sign in" button is in the top left corner of the page

In the next window, type in your preferred email address (this does not have to be your UNC email address) and click "Continue." 

Enter your email address to create an account and click "Continue"

Next, fill out the form with your First Name (i.e., "Given Name") and Last Name (i.e., "Family Name") and a password with the required security criteria. Click on the "Register" button when you have finished filling out the form. You will be redirected to Embase and automatically signed in to your new Elsevier account. 

Input the necessary information and click "Register" at the bottom of the box

If you ever get signed out of your Elsevier account while using Embase, you can click on the "Sign in" button to log in again.