Searching PubMed



Searching PubMed
Searching PubMed
What is PubMed?
• PubMed is a bibliographic database created by the
Nat’l Library of Medicine and the Nat’l Institutes of
• It contains citations to journal articles in the life
sciences, concentrating on biomedical information
• PubMed contains all the citations in Medline, plus
additional citations which are still in the process of
being indexed
• For more information, go to the following web site:
Contents of this Tutorial
This tutorial will show you how to run basic searches in the PubMed database.
Specifically, the following searches will be demonstrated:
Combining topics and sets together
Limiting a search by:
• Human or animal studies
• Language
• Gender
• Age
• Publication type:
– Review article
– Systematic reviews
– Meta analyses
– Clinical trials
– Randomized controlled trials
– Practice guidelines
• Publication Date
• Field Tags
Using the Advanced Search link
• Author
• Journal name
-Subject heading (MeSH Headings) and sub-headings
Obtaining the material you find in PubMed
For more help with searching PubMed, go to this tutorial web site:
Accessing PubMed
There are two ways to access PubMed
1) From the Halle Library’s homepage
• You will need your my.emich username and password to
access it from the Databases tab
• This is the better option for accessing PubMed, because you
will be linked to the EMU FindText+ software which will help
you locate the materials you find while searching
2) From the Nat’l. Library of Medicine & the Nat’l Institutes of Health
web page. If you enter using the address below, the EMU FindText+
software will not be available to you.
PubMed is a scholarly database made freely available directly
from this U.S. government web site:
Accessing PubMed from the
Halle Library Homepage
Go to the Halle Library’s
web page at
and click on the Databases tab.
Finding PubMed on the
List of Databases
Click on the letter P from the
alphabetic list at the top of
the page.
Finding PubMed on the
List of Databases
Select PubMed
from the list of
PubMed Main Screen
Help link.
This is the homepage of PubMed
and also the place to run a keyword search.
The Limits link allows you to
limit the search to type of
article, languages, gender,
ages, species, dates, and
many other search fields.
The Advanced Search
link allows you to see
previous searches and
access those results.
Searching with Keywords
Click on the Search button.
If you were interested in information on assessment in
speech pathology, you would type the most important
words, called keywords, into the search box.
In this example, I typed in the word ‘and’ which the
computer understands as a command to intersect ideas
together. The results contain some form of the word
assessment and the phrase speech pathology.
However, the PubMed search engine is so smart, it
automatically knows to ‘and’ the two ideas together, so I
didn’t really need to use it!
Combining Sets
or Topics Together
Combining the speech
pathology assessment set
and the dysphagia set.
One way to save keyboarding time, is to type your main search
in first, then intersect other sub-topics into that search.
First, type in the main topic, in this case, speech pathology
Clear the search box after you have run each search.
Set numbers assigned
to each topical search.
Next, type in the sub-topics you wish to search along with the
main subject. Key them in one at a time, so separate sets are
created, clearing the search box after each search is run. In this
case, dysphagia and agraphia are the sub-topics.
Now, click on the Advanced Search link. You will see the three
separate sets listed along with their assigned set numbers.
Lastly, type the set numbers you wish to combine into the
search box, making sure you place a pound (#) sign in front of
each number. e.g. #3 and #4
Applying Limits
Too many articles retrieved! Let’s
some limits to narrow down the
The screen will now look like this.
Click on the Limits link
located above the Search box.
Language and Study
Subject Limits
You can limit to
articles that focus on
human or animal
Because PubMed indexes
articles written in more than 50
languages, it is important to
remember to always limit your
search to languages which you
can read!
Gender and Age Limits
You can limit to articles
that discuss a specific
You can limit to articles
that discuss a certain
age group.
Publication Limits
Systematic Reviews, Meta analysis, Practice Guidelines,
Clinical Trials, RCTs, Review Articles
Also under the Limits link,
you will find a section called
Type of Article. Here are a few
of the types of publications that
can be selected: meta analysis,
practice guideline, clinical trial,
RCT, review articles
The check box for limiting
a search to systematic
reviews is located under
the Subsets scroll menu.
Limiting by Date
Highlight the date range from
the drop-down menu.
Limiting by Field Tags
Sometimes you want to find a word, name,
or a piece of information only in a specific
place or field in a citation, such as the article
title, the investigator, or a substance name.
PubMed allows you to do that by going under
the Limits link, scrolling down to the bottom
of the page under Search Field Tags, and
highlighting the desired field to be searched.
Next, type in the word, name, or a piece of
information you wish to locate into the search
box at the very top of the screen.
Using the Advanced
Search Link
The Advanced Search link is
located on PubMed’s main page,
just above the search box.
This link allows you to search
by author, journal name, ISBN,
chemical substance, etc.
These same searches can be run
by clicking on the Limits link, and
using the drop-down menus under
Search Field Tags.
Searching for an Author
Step #1 - Click on the
down arrow of the Search
Builder box, and select
Step #2 - Now,
click on the Add to
Search Box button.
Type in the last name and
first initial of the author.
From the list of possible
authors that appears, select
the one that is the most
likely match for your author.
Step #3 - The search is sent to the Search
Box. Click on the blue Search button.
Searching by the
Name of a Journal
Step #1 - Click on the
down arrow of the
Search Builder box, and
select Journal.
Step #2 - Now, click on the
Add to Search Box button.
Type in the name of the
From the list of possible
journal names that
appears, select the one
that is the most likely
match for the one you
Interested in
Step #3 - The search is sent to
the Search Box. Click on
the blue Search button.
What is a Subject Heading?
Subject headings are words that are used to describe the content of
journal articles & other material in PubMed and other scholarly
databases or indexes
Subject headings are also called controlled vocabulary, descriptors,
headings, and index terms
Subject headings are specific to each scholarly database
A list of subject headings is loaded onto most scholarly databases;
the list is sometimes called a thesaurus
PubMed calls its thesaurus MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)
Why Use a Subject Heading When
Keyword Searching Works Just Fine?
A subject heading search helps when the keyword
selected has many meanings.
e.g. I need information on AIDS, the disease.
Because a computer simply reads a string of
letters, and not the meaning of the actual word,
the search will often pick up results that are not
relevant to the topic.
Why Use a Subject Heading When
Keyword Searching Works Just Fine?
For example, if a search is run using the
word aids, the computer will pick up
handicapped aids, visual aids, diabetes
aids, etc.—but you meant AIDS, the
However, if a researcher looks up the word
aids in MeSH, it will direct them to a
number of choices with the word aids in
them, one of them being the MeSH
acquired immunodeficiencey syndrome
Accessing the Medical Subject
Headings (MeSH)
To access the MeSH Headings,
click on the phrase MeSH Database
located under the heading More Resources
on PubMed’s main page.
Searching with MeSH
In the MeSH search box,
type in the topic of your
Keep it simple, a single
word or phrase at a time,
e.g. aids, heart attack
Searching with MeSH
The PubMed and MeSH
pages look alike, but…
The PubMed main page has the word
PubMed and the blue open book in the upper
left corner of the page.
The MeSH database page has the
word MeSH and a picture of a tree at
the top of the page.
Searching with MeSH
The MeSH search engine will map
the word or phrase to a list of the
most likely subject headings.
Double click on the one that is the
closest match to your topic. In this
case, acquired immunodeficiency
syndrome is the closest term to the
concept of the disease or
condition, AIDS.
Searching with MeSH
A definition of the subject heading is given.
If there are specific aspects of the subject
heading you want the article to contain,
check the box in front of the appropriate
sub-heading, e.g., drug therapy,
immunology, psychology, etc.
Searching with MeSH
The search must now be sent from
the MeSH database, to the PubMed database.
This is done by clicking on the word Links on the
right side of the screen.
It can be sent to PubMed or PubMed-Major
Topic. The latter choice will result in
less articles, but with greater focus on the topic.
Getting Your Hands on the
Materials You’ve Found
• Now that you know how to search the PubMed
database, let’s talk about how you get your
hands on the materials you located.
• The easiest way to locate articles is to use the
Find Text+ button located next to the citations in
PubMed. You will only see this button if you
logged into PubMed through the Halle Library’s
list of Databases.
Getting Your Hands on the
Materials You’ve Found
Clicking on the Find Text+ button
allows you to see if and how the
Halle Library owns a journal or
other materials.
The button works using pop-ups, so
make sure the pop-up blocker on your
computer is turned off.
(Pop-up blockers are usually
found under the settings or
tools of search browsers such
as Internet Explorer or Firefox.)
Related Citations are links to
citations that are related to your topic.
This is a great way to find additional
Find Text+ Button
• Follow this link to watch a video that
shows how to use the Find Text+ button,
including how to order materials the Halle
Library does not own through ILLiad, the
interlibrary loan system
• Follow this link to see a print explanation of
how to use the Find Text+ button and ILLiad
Need More Help?
Click on this link to point you to ways to ask
a librarian for further help.
EBucciarelli 6/10

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