PubMed is a powerful database containing medical, dental, and veterinary journal citations from around the world. Unfortunately, all that power comes with some complexity. This guide is designed to help you efficiently search PubMed.
Automatic Term Mapping
Automatic term mapping is one of the most powerful parts of PubMed. Terms typed in the search box are compared against a MeSH translation table to convert your terms into proper medical language. For example, heart attack will also search myocardial infarction, and breast cancer will also search breast neoplasms. Your original terms will still be searched as well. To view the translated search, click on the details tab.
Due to the breadth of PubMed, setting limits is critical. Always limit to English. Consider other limits: type of article, humans or animals, gender, and ages. Limits will help you narrow your search.
Boolean operators must be typed in ALL CAPS. Boolean operators include AND, OR, and NOT.
Truncation tells the database to search for variations of a word. For example, clinic* will search for clinic, clinics, clinical, clinician, etc. PubMed will search for the first 600 variations of the root word. A note of caution: using truncation turns off automatic term mapping.
Click on the "Clinical Queries" link on the left of the page to search on a specific condition or disease and limit the search to etiology, diagnosis, therapy, prognosis, or clinical prediction guidelines. In addition, you can also search for systematic reviews or medical genetics.
Printing and Emailing Citations
To print or email selected citations, put a check in the check box to the left of the citation you want. Then click on the drop-down menu which says "Send to." Now select either printer or email. Click on "Print this page" or type in your email address.