Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Literature searching: Translating search strategies to other databases

Polyglot Search Translator

The Polyglot Search Translator is a tool for translating search syntax from one bibliographic database to another on a different platform eg Ovid Medline to CINAHL (EBSCOhost) or Cochrane Library (Wiley).

Syntax describes the way database commands are written on each platform. For example searching for diabetes in the title of a record would look like:

  • diabetes.ti. in Ovid Medline
  • TI diabetes in CINAHL (EBSCOhost)
  • diabetes:ti in the Cochrane Library (Wiley)
  • diabetes[ti] in PubMed

Syntax is consistent across the same platform, so there is no need to translate syntax across different databases on the same platform. For example Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase, Ovid Emcare and APA PsycInfo (Ovid) use the same syntax/command language. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Polyglot only automates changes to syntax/command language. It CANNOT check your choice of subject headings, and you will need to manually check that these are relevant for each database.

How to use the Polyglot Search Translator

Quick start

  1. Copy and paste a search query from either Ovid Medline or PubMed into the top box.
  2. Scroll down to the database that you want to translate the search into eg Cochrane Library.
  3. Copy and paste translated search lines into the new database, one line at a time.
  4. For more instructions see Polyglot Help.

Be aware

  • Polyglot DOES NOT CHOOSE RELEVANT SUBJECT HEADINGS. It just adjusts the syntax (the way database commands are written).
  • You still need to check for relevant subject headings in each database, unless they are using the same set of subject headings eg MeSH is used in Ovid Medline, Cochrane Library and PubMed.
  • Polyglot is constantly being refined, and at times it may not work perfectly. You still need to check that the search syntax is working in the new database. 
  • You don't need to use Polyglot when translating searches between databases on the same platform, such as Ovid. This is because they use a consistent set of commands/syntax.

Polyglot - example