Features of PubMed

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PubMed is one interface for searching the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database of biomedical citations. MEDLINE includes over 15 million citations dating back to 1966, from nearly 4,600 biomedical journals. Seventy six percent of the citations contain author-provided abstracts. Articles in over 40 languages, from over 70 countries, are included. The National

Institute of Health charters a committee, the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee, which selects the journals to be included in MEDLINE. The National Library of Medicine assigns the MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) terms, although abstracts are often available in PubMed before the MeSH headings have been assigned. PubMed does include some citations that are out of scope for MEDLINE, generally citations provided by publishers. PubMed also includes protein and genome sequence searching. The easiest address to remember is www.pubmed.gov.

Features of PubMed

  • Journal browser- for complete names, ISSNs, abbreviations.

  • MeSH database - subject headings.

  • Single Citation Matcher - for missing citation information.

  • Clinical Queries - to search for studies, Evidence Based Medicine.

  • My NCBI - to store and update searches.

  • Order Documents - for practitioners without interlibrary loan services.

  • Consumer Health – MedlinePlus – the science of Medline put into lay terms for patients’ use.

  • Clinical Alerts - for safety alerts

  • Clinical Trials - trials in which patients may be enrolled.

Searching PubMed

  • PubMed uses automatic term mapping (ATM), words entered are matched against the MeSH list, journal titles, phrase list, and author index in this order.

  • All fields are searched unless limits are chosen.

  • Boolean operators must be capitalized.

  • * is the truncation symbol, but truncating turns off ATM .

  • Double quotes forces a phrase, but double quotes turn off ATM.

  • Click on the "Limits" link below the search box to limit by date, language, gender, age, journal subsets.

  • Limits remain in effect until they are turned off.

Examining the Results

  • Summary: is the default display for results, includes author, title, journal citation, PMID. Click on the down arrow to change the display.

  • Citation: format shows the citation, abstract, MeSH terms, and link to full text when available.

  • Details: shows the search syntax, allows you to save it as a URL for later searching.

  • Add to clipboard: to save the results for up to 8 hours.

  • Related Articles: runs a search based on the citation, the similarity between documents is measured by the words they have in common with some adjustment for document lengths..

  • Books: runs a search in the NLM catalog.

  • Linkout: provides links to full text when available, either free on the Web or publisher's site.

MeSH Database

  • Acts like a thesaurus.

  • After searching, click on the link to the MeSH term to see the subheadings and other options.

  • PubMed automatically explodes terms, although this feature can be turned off.

  • Can restrict to major terms only.

  • After checking the box to the left of the term, choose the button “send to” search box with AND to begin building your search.

  • Some citations will be excluded if you search by MeSH terms

    • Newer cites which don't yet have MeSH terms.

    • Premedline citations.


  • A place to store searches for updating.

  • Registration (free) is required.

  • Up to 100 searches can be stored.

  • Click on the search name hyperlink to see the search syntax.

  • Select the search and click on "What's new" to find new articles.

  • Searches can be saved and scheduled, with results being e-mailed to you.

  • Users can set highlighting preferences, display tabs, and customize in other ways.

Clinical Queries

  • Designed for use by c1inicians, this advanced search feature helps format searches for specialized types of research.

  • Retrieval results will be greatly reduced compared to a full PubMed search. Look at the details to see the syntax.

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