Library:How to Search OvidSP Agricola and FSTA databases

From UBC Wiki

Databases on Forestry and Agricultural Sciences available on the OvidSP interface are:


1970 – current AGRICOLA contains 2.9M records covering every major agricultural subject, in N. America. Compiled by the National Agricultural Library of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) and distributed by the National Technical Information Service of the Dept of Commerce.

Food Science & Technology Abstracts

1969 – current FSTA contains citations with abstracts on all aspects of food science, food products and food processing, including biotechnology, economics, marketing, legislation and packaging. An online thesaurus is available to help compose your search statement.

How to access OvidSP databases

  1. Go to the UBC Library Home Page (
  2. Click on Search Collections in the top navigation bar, and then select Indexes, Databases & Articles
  3. Search for the OvidSP database you require. (e.g. for FSTA: Either click on the letter “F” or do a title search.)
    For a complete list of databases on OvidSP, search for OvidSP.
  4. From the database Information Resources page, connect to a database by clicking the appropriate link for your location. If you’re at UBC, or using VPN or proxy, click on the links under the UBC students, faculty, staff and users in the library column. If you are at a teaching hospital, click on the link in the UBC Teaching Hospital users column.
  5. Connect to a database. If you’re at UBC, just click on connect via the web.

HandsonHAND thumb.png To configure your computer for remote access see: Connecting from Home

Searching – Ovid Search

This is OvidSP's main search page!

  1. Enter a keyword or phrase in the search box, e.g.: mad cow.
  2. Keep the check mark beside Map Term to Subject Heading.
  3. Click on the Search button.


  1. Use Truncation and Wildcards to retrieve variations of your search term:

    • The truncation symbol $ retrieves unlimited suffix variations:
      computer$ retrieves computer, computers, computerisation, computerised, computerization, computerized, etc.

    • The # symbol replaces exactly one character.
      wom#n retrieves woman, women, womyn.

    • The wildcard symbol ? substitutes 0 or 1 character.
      labo?r retrieves labour or labor.

  2. Use truncation or wildcards anywhere in your search term, except as the first character.

Find citation

To find a citation:

  1. Select the Find Citation tab.
  2. Fill in the form with all the fields you can supply.
  3. Got a question? Click on Help in the upper right screen.


Search Tools

The search tools provides various options, such as Map Term or Thesaurus. Map Term will show the search term in context with subject headings of the database

To run a subject search with a search tool:

  1. Click on the Search Tools tab.
  2. Type a term or phrase, e.g. mad cow.
  3. Select a tool from the drop down list.
  4. Click on the Search button.



What does "mapping" your term do?

In FSTA, OvidSP maps mad cow to a list of subject headings, e.g. BSE, diseases, diseases animals, food safety, beef, food safety animal foods, meat specific, hazards, as well as mad cow as a keyword at the bottom of the list. When you search with subject headings, you improve your search retrieval/relevance.

InformationIcon.png Use Help to link to information on all search tools.


Mapping Display - Selecting the best subject heading

The Mapping Display lists a number of possible Subject Headings for the term mad cow. (Select the most relevant to your research, e.g., BSE)

  • Click on the "i" icon to read the scope note for more information about heading.
  • Click on the heading itself to see terms that are broader or narrower.
  • Click on a heading under Broader Terms to expand the search to include all narrower terms.
  • Or, click on a heading under Related Terms to gather terms related to BSE as a major topic.
  • Click on Continue.


Search Fields

  • Search Fields tab enables searching specific access point, such as: book title, journal name, abstract, place of publication, target audience, and more.
  • Click on the Search Fields tab
  • Click box(es) of interest to select fields.
  • Click on Search to continue.



Fields available in Search Fields vary from database to database.

Combining terms - Using Boolean operators AND or OR

  1. Select the sets that you want to combine.
  2. Use AND to search for all of the terms in one article:
    • (e.g., Mad Cow AND Canada).
    • AND narrows a search.
  3. Use OR to allow for synonyms and broaden a search:
    • (e.g., BSE OR animal diseases – both topics will be searched).
    • OR broadens a search.
  4. Click on the appropriate button to combine.



Type set numbers in the search box, and then click on the Search button, e.g.: 1 and 2

Limiting - to refine your results

Displaying & marking search results to print/email/save

Results Manager - Printing/emailing/saving

Getting the article

Saving search history in OvidSP

Deleting search sets from your search history

Sample record from FSTA Abstracts