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Basic Searching in PubMed

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PubMed contains millions of citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.

Accessing the Database

  1. Go to the Hardin Library homepage at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/
  2. Click on the link that says “PubMed.”  It is located near the top left of the page under the heading “Popular Databases.” (NOTE: While PubMed is freely available, it is best to access it from the Hardin Library website so that you will have access to full text articles that you are only entitled to as an affiliate of the University of Iowa).
  3. If you are off-campus, you will be prompted for your Hawk ID and password.

Searching via Keywords

(Quicker search, but less focused search)

  1. Break your search into concepts.  For instance, a search on the effects of aspirin on hypertension has two concepts. “Aspirin” is one and “hypertension” is the other.
  2. Search one term at a time.
  3. Check the “Details” box on the bottom, right-hand side of the screen to see how PubMed interpreted your search and make changes accordingly.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary for additional terms.
  5. Combine searches and then limit your search as necessary (See “Combining Searches” and “Limiting Results” on the second page of this handout).

Searching via MeSH

(More structured search meant to yield higher quality citations)

  1. Break your search into concepts.  For instance, a search on the effects of aspirin on hypertension has two concepts. “Aspirin” is one and “hypertension” is the other.
  2. Change the drop box to “MeSH,” then enter one concept in to the search box at a time. Change the drop box to MeSH
  3. You will be given a list of MeSH terms. Use the descriptions beneath the terms to determine which is most appropriate and then check the box to the left of your chosen term. (Note: if you want to use subheadings, click the link for the MeSH term).
  4. Now, near the top, right of the screen, click the “Add to Search Builder” button.
  5. If you have another term to search, clear the top search box and enter your new term.              Now, near the top, click the Add to Search Builder button
  6. Once you have entered all of you terms, select “Search PubMed.”
  7. Combine searches and then limit your search as necessary (See “Combining Searches” and “Limiting Results” on the second page of this handout).

Combining Search Results (Search History)

  1. From any PubMed screen, click the “Advanced Search” link above the search box.
    Limits
  2. Near the middle of the screen is your Search History.  You can combine your previous searches by typing the “#” plus the number to the left of the appropriate search into your search box as shown in the picture below and then clicking the “Search” button.
    Combine

Limiting Search Results

  1. You have options for limiting your search results to certain age
    groups, languages, publication types, etc. To limit a search result, use
    “Choose Additional Filters” option to the left of your search results.
  2. Select the appropriate limits. Keep in mind that the more limits you
    select, the fewer articles you will retrieve. Also, be aware that not all
    limits show up. You may have to click, “more…” to see all available
    options. Then, click the limits again. They are activated when they
    turn blue with a checkmark to the left.
Capture

Managing Results

  1. You can check the boxes to the left of citations and then email or print them out for later use. Once you have checked all the citations you are interested in go to the top right of the screen and click on the “Send to” link.
    1. To email: simply click the “email” option.
    2. To print: click the “Clipboard” option. Then, click the link for “Clipboard” near the top right of the screen. All the items you’ve selected will display for printing.

Finding Full Text

  1. Click the title of an article to see more information, including options for full text access, abstracts (when available), and MeSH terms.
  2. To see if full text is available, use the InfoLink button InfoLink Button. (It is generally located near the top right of the screen).
  3. If no full text is available, contact us at Hardin or use our interlibrary loan service http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/illa/

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