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PubMed Search Made Easy: Search PubMed: Basics

This is a guide on how to search PubMed, the world's largest database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics.

PubMed Search: One Easy Step

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. Optionally, combine search terms with connector words: AND, OR, or NOT using upper case letters.
PubMed offers alternative searching options: The Auto Suggest drop-down menu appears when entering words; and the Titles with your search terms option may appear after a search.
After clicking the Search button or pressing the Enter key, PubMed displays a list of results in Summary format.

Search By Author's Name

Enter the author’s last name plus initials without punctuation in the search box, and then click Search. Names entered using either the last name+initials format (smith ja) or the full name format (john a smith).

To view a video tutorial click here.

PubMed: Search for a Journal

There are a few ways to add specific journals to a search:

  • Search with the complete title or the specific NLM Title Abbreviation using the [TA] or [Journal] tag:
    • Critical care medicine [ta]
    • bmj [journal]
  • Use the Advanced search Builder in PubMed to identify journals
    • Click the Advanced link
    • Select Journal in the drop-down menu
    • Type in the first few letters of the journal title and select the correct title from the auto complete feature
    • Add additional journals as desired, changing the Boolean search to OR
    • Click the Search button
  • Search for a single journal title using the PubMed Single Citation Matcher linked from the PubMed homepage.

To view a video tutorial provided by NLM click here.

Anatomy of the Summary Results

PubMed search results are displayed in a summary format, see the anatomy of search results page below. Citations are initially displayed 20 items per page with the most recently entered citations displayed first. You can mouse over a journal’s title abbreviation to display the full journal name.

Search By Keyword

When you enter a phrase in the query box, it's recognized by the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) Translation Table used in PubMed's Automatic Term Mapping (ATM).

For example, if you enter fever of unknown origin, PubMed recognizes this phrase as a MeSH Term. If a phrase is not recognized you can bypass ATM and search for a phrase using the following formats:

  • Enclose the phrase in double quotes: “kidney allograft”
  • Use a search tag: kidney allograft[tw]
  • Use a hyphen: first-line
  • Truncate: kidney allograft*

Find Similar Articles

The Similar Articles link is as straightforward as it sounds. PubMed uses a powerful word-weighted algorithm to compare words from the Title and Abstract of each citation, as well as the MeSH headings assigned. The best matches for each citation are pre-calculated and stored as a set.

© 2016 New York Institute of Technology