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The Emtree life science thesaurus indexes full text for a more thorough search

Emtree is Elsevier’s authoritative life science thesaurus. With Emtree indexing, you can use natural language to search thousands of journals and millions of conference abstracts with precision and high recall.

Emtree makes things findable

Emtree terms are used to index:

  • All drug generic names described by the FDA and EMA

  • All drug international non-proprietary names (INNs) described by the WHO

  • Drug trade names for most major pharmaceutical companies

  • Medical device trade and general names, plus medical procedures

  • Global medical device nomenclature (GMDN) names used by the FDA

  • Diseases, organisms, biological functions, and medical and biological parameters

  • Terms for traditional Chinese medicine

  • All terms from the MEDLINE thesaurus MeSH

Chart showing Embase classes of indexing terms

Embase indexing at a glance

Emtree is expansive, including on average more than four synonyms for each term to ensure that your results are comprehensive. Both Embase records and licensed MEDLINE records are indexed extensively, either via expert manual indexing or advanced algorithms.

Core principles of Embase indexing

  • Indexers check the full article, not just title and abstract. Indexers are warned if they attempt to index terms in the wrong field or if terms cannot be found in Emtree. Data samples are checked monthly to provide continuous feedback to indexers.

  • The Emtree thesaurus controls the index terms for consistent concept coverage.

Download the Embase indexing guide for more insights.opens in new tab/window

By the numbers: Emtree as of March 2023

97,486 preferred terms including MeSH terms

509,372 synonyms so you don’t have to know the preferred term to obtain relevant results

35,636 drugs and chemicals preferred terms, linked to almost 26,800 CAS registry numbers

61,850 device (e.g., endoscopes, catheters) and general preferred terms

19,766 medical device trade names 64 drug subheadings, 4 medical device subheadings, 14 disease subheadings

"Subheadings in databases like Embase provide the most useful support for finding adverse events, but not every database has indexing or subheadings."


Su Golder

Research Fellow at University of York

Frequently asked questions