• How-To: Searching with PubMed

    by Dr. Christine Tomkinson. Last modified: 30/01/14


    What is PubMed?

    PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. The United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health maintains the database as part of the Entrez system of information retrieval.

    PubMed can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

    What is MEDLINE?

    MEDLINE is the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) premier bibliographic database that contains over 19 million references to journal articles in life sciences with a concentration on biomedicine. A distinctive feature of MEDLINE is that the records are indexed with NLM Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). The majority of the publications covered in MEDLINE are scholarly journals; a small number of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters considered useful to particular segments of the NLM broad user community are also included

    In addition to MEDLINE, PubMed provides access to:

    • older references from the print version of Index Medicus back to 1951 and earlier
    • references to some journals before they were indexed in Index Medicus and MEDLINE, for instance Science, BMJ, and Annals of Surgery
    • very recent entries to records for an article before it is indexed with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and added to MEDLINE
    • a collection of books available full-text and other subsets of NLM records


    To search PubMed, type a word or phrase into the query box (e.g., a subject, author and/or journal). Then click on the Search button or press the Enter key.

    You can combine search terms with connector words: “AND,” “OR,” or “NOT” using upper case letters.

    PubMed displays a list of Results in Summary format after clicking on the Search button. To retrieve more information about citation(s), use the Display Settings link to change how the results are formatted, sorted and displayed.

    Filters are available in the left navigation bar and may be used to limit or focus searches. Click on a term to activate or deactivate the filter. Multiple filters may be selected.

    Basic Search

    Video courtesy ThisIsHealth Youtube Channel.

    Advanced Search

    Video courtesy NCBI Youtube Channel.

    Printing, E-mailing & Downloading Results

    The Clipboard feature stores selected citations from one or more searches for eight hours. Select citations by clicking the check box next to them; from the Send to menu, select Clipboard; then click the Add to Clipboard button. Click on the Clipboard link to view citations.

    After selecting citations (e.g. from checked boxes or Clipboard), use Display Settings to identify a format and print from the browser. Alternatively, select from the Send To menu: File saves a downloadable file; E-mail offers formatting options and. Citation Manager creates a file in the MEDLINE format for download into citation management software.

    Further PubMed Tutorials & Help



    The following two tabs change content below.
    Dr. Christine Tomkinson

    Dr. Christine Tomkinson

    BSc BMBS Resident Physician, Neurology
    Christine is a Resident Physician in Neurology based in Ontario, Canada. She studied at the University of Guelph, Ontario and the University of Limerick, Ireland. Her main interests are stroke, dementia care and multiple sclerosis.

    Tags: , , , ,

    Leave a Reply