WEBTREATS: Searching MEDLINE (PubMed) on the World Wide Web

MEDLINE is the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) bibliographic database of more than 15 million articles in more than 3800 medical journals.  PubMed is the National Library of Medicine's free version of MEDLINE.  Help for PubMed is found on the main page on the left hand side of the screen.  You may also wish to check out the Quick Start and FAQs.

The URL for PubMed is http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed or http://pubmed.gov

Basic Searching

Default searching in PubMed is subject searching. Just type the word or words that describe your topic into the query box.  You can enter more than one search term (e.g.  pregnancy hypertension will become pregnancy AND hypertension).   PubMed will automatically combine (ANDs) the terms together.  PubMed will look for your terms in the title, abstract and subject headings of the record.

Ways to narrow your search (e.g. to find fewer articles):  You can use some of PubMed's field designations or tags such as:

    • MeSH Terms [mh] -- (e.g. hysterectomy [mh] ) or MeSH Major Topic [majr] -- (e.g. hysterectomy [majr])
      • These are the NLMs Medical Subject Headings e.g. how an article is indexed in MEDLINE.
    • Title Words [ti] --  (e.g. infertility [ti])
      • This tag is used to narrow a topic so that your term will be mentioned in the title of the article
    • Text Words [tw] -- All the words in the title, abstract, MeSH terms, etc. are searched -- (e.g. vaginal [tw])
    • Date of Publication [dp] -- to narrow to a specific year, month or date (e.g. 2010 [dp], 2010/01 [dp], or 2010/01/01 [dp])
    • Language [la] -- to narrow to english (e.g. english [la])
    • Exclude a Topic -- (e.g.  pregnancy NOT labor)
    • Use more Specific Concepts --  (e.g. instead of pregnancy, use pregnancy complications) -- to find more terms go to the top of the page - use resources menu - expand - find literature - expand - find MeSH Database - click to start the MeSH database

Ways to Broaden your search (e.g. find more articles):

Remove terms from your search

Use broader concepts   (e.g.  instead of thinprep, use pap smears)

Use OR with synonyms (e.g. antenatal OR prenatal OR antepartum)

Author Searching

Enter an author's last name and initials with no punctuation (e.g. smith ja).  You can also use the field designation when searching for a specific author: Author Name [au]  (e.g. smith jb [au]).

Boolean Operators (CASE SENSITIVE)  These can be used to make your search broader, narrower or more complex:   AND, OR, NOT  (e.g. Pregnancy [mh] AND smith jb [au] NOT (Labor [mh] OR Delivery [majr])

PubMed Tutorials can be found here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3827/ or http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/disted/pubmed.html

How to get a Document

You should be able to obtain items through your local public library (though they may not be free).  Your local librarian can also help you with your search strategies.  You can also call 1-800-338-7657 to find the nearest medical library that may be able to help you.  To find other information, you can also search the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINEplus, which has information on clearinghouses, directories and other consumer information.



Mary Hyde
Senior Director

Beth DeFrancis Sun
Special Collections Librarian

Jean Riedlinger
Reference Librarian


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