PubMed: Searching and Search Features


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Overview of different ways of searching the PubMed database: cross-searched with Entrez, basic search, author search, journal search, searching for special topics, single citation matching, and advanced search.

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PubMed: Searching and Search Features

  1. 1. PubMed: Searching and Search Features Kay Cunningham Library Director Christian Brothers University August 2010
  2. 2. PubMed is available free online from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It is one of a number NCBI resources, including: Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, full text books, genetics databases, chemical information databases, and more. These can all be searched together with the Entrez cross-database searcher, also free, and available at: However, advanced and specialized search features within PubMed give you more control over your search results. What you are looking for will determine the best tools for you to use.
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  4. 4. Cross-Searching Results and Differences A problem with cross-searching is that different databases work in different ways so your results may not be the same if you used each database’s native interface. TIP: Using quotation marks forces most databases to search for a phrase. Notice the difference in the number of results.
  5. 6. With Basic Search , just start keying terms into the search box. In PubMed, there’s no need for you to use quotes, ANDs, ORs, or any special formatting. In Basic Search, PubMed helps you choose search terms. When you enter a word, an automatic list will be generated listing possibilities. Just select the one that you want.
  6. 7. Author Searching No special commands are needed to search for articles by an author, just input the person’s name this way (punctuation unnecessary): lastname initials PubMed recognizes that as the author format and auto-matically searches the author field. Note: PubMed finds an author, regardless of where he falls in the author list—first, middle, last.
  7. 8. Combining Multiple Concepts Simply string together any terms related to your search. Do not use ANDs or ORs, as that interferes with how PubMed translates a search. Order does not matter. If you want to see exactly what PubMed looked for, check out the Search Details for a translation.
  8. 9. Translation PubMed automatically and properly ANDs your search terms, and ORs any synonyms. Notice the original search at the bottom of the Details .
  9. 10. Finding Journals <ul><li>Search for Journals by title with: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The official Medline abbreviation - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New Engl J Med </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-known unofficial abbreviations - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NEJM </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The complete title - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New England Journal of Medicine </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>TIP: You may get variations in your results as the official abbreviation is the preferred search method. Use the Journals Database from PubMed’s home page to find the official abbreviation and to retrieve the exact number of all articles from a particular journal. </li></ul>
  10. 12. Journals Database Access the Journals Database from More Resources on PubMed’s Main Page ( ) Additional URL:
  11. 13. Transfer the search to PubMed Once you’ve indentified the journal you want, click Links , then PubMed to activate a search.
  12. 14. Special Topics Some of these special topic links go deeper into PubMed; others go to external sites.
  13. 15. Clinical Queries Clinical Queries automatically retrieves and sorts results into categories.
  14. 16. Single-Citation Matcher If you have an incorrect or partial citation to an article, use the Single-Citation Matcher to search using citation elements. Mix and match as much as you need.
  15. 17. Field Searching (Advanced) <ul><li>Useful for when you are looking for very specific items, Advanced Search lets you designate the fields to be searched. </li></ul><ul><li>Particularly useful: </li></ul><ul><li>Affiliation – whenever an author has a common name </li></ul><ul><li>Text Word – whenever a topic is very new or rarely written about </li></ul>
  16. 18. Building an Advanced Search <ul><li>Here, all that is known about a citation is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the author’s last name is Park, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Park is affiliated with the University of Tennessee, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Park has written about drosophila </li></ul></ul>TIP: Long and complex searches can be built in Advanced Search , then saved in My NCBI to be re-run whenever you need to look for new articles. Key individual elements into the Search Builder one at a time; and add each to the Search Box .
  17. 19. Other handouts PubMed: Basic Search, Limiting, and Scientific Journal Articles PubMed: Working with Results Lists My NCBI