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Pubmed: How to

Accessing Pubmed

Accessing PubMed

Medline is a database compiled by the National Library of Medicine of articles published in medical and scientific journals of interest to healthcare practitioners.

The resource available at the Library is PubMed, the free interface provided by the National Library of Medicine. You can access PubMed through the Library's web site, from the Information Resources Page. When you are accessing PubMed from off-campus you will have to login through the Library's proxy server.

Keyword Searching

Keyword Searching


When searching for articles, you can search by subject or by keyword. When you search a database by keyword, the system looks for the term you've entered as you've entered it. Spelling and context are important. If you misspell a word, you may not find any results. If you use a word in a different context, you may get results that are not useful. If you use a variant of a word different from what most authors use, you may not get the most important articles. The more terms you include, the more likely you are to get results that are useful.

The PubMed default is searching by keyword. Enter the term(s), you're looking for and click on the Search button.

Enter Search Term and Click on Search Button


Subject Searching

Subject Searching

To use the MeSH indexing system, click on the link labeled "MeSH Database" in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.



Within the MeSH database, enter the term you wish to look for and press the button labeled "Search".
Searching the MeSH Database



The system finds terms that it thinks matches the word(s) you've entered. In this case, it found the term "ginger" as entered. When you have decided which term you want to use, click in the box next to that term. Enter the term by clicking on the box labeled "Add to search builder" on the right hand side of the screen.
Selecting Subject Headings



You can repeat this step as many times as you need, in order to include as many terms as you'd like. Once you have all the terms you want, click on the grey button labeled "Search PubMed" located under the search builder on the right side of the screen.
Submitting the Search to PubMed

Applying Limits

Applying Limits

In addition to including multiple terms, you can refine your search by applying limits to your search. Choose among the filters on the left side of the screen.


From this list, you can further refine your search in the following ways:

  • Text availability: You can select only records that access the full text of the article
  • Article types: You can retrieve only those articles that are of a particular type .  Examples include reviews, editorials, letters, clinical trials, etc. 
  • Publication Date: You can retrieve only those articles found during a certain time period.
  • Additional Filters: Includes species, language, sex and ages


Select a limit by clicking on the limit you'd like to apply. Select "Additional Filters" for choices not automatically offered.

Search Results

Search Results

Citation in PubMed
Once you've completed all the steps of your search, you're ready to look at your results. PubMed originally presents your results in short format. The information here includes the author, the title of the article, and the source (journal title, volume and issue numbers and dates, and page numbers). This is the minimum amount of information you need to retrieve the article. However there is more information available to you. To a detailed record, click on the title of an article you're interested in.



If the abstract gives you the option of linking out to the full-text (there will be an icon in the top right hand corner of the screen) and it is a journal that the Library has electronic access to then you can retrieve the article directly on your computer. If there is not a link-out icon, you can check the Library's discovery tool to see if it is available independent of PubMed.

If the article is not available electronically, it may be available in the Library in print format. Check the Library's discovery tool to see if the Library has a subscription to this journal.

If the Library does not have a subscription to the journal (either in print or electronically), you can still get the article through Interlibrary Loan.

Getting Help

Getting Help


There is online help from PubMed in using the database.

The University of Florida Health Science Center Library has developed an online tutorial for using PubMed.

A short summary for searching PubMed (handed out in class) is also available from the Library web site.

And, of course, you can always ask a librarian for help with your search.

Contact the Library

Need help finding or using Downstate Library resources?
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Librarians are available

Mon-Fri from 9am to 5pm