How do I search PubMed more effectively? – OHIO University Libraries

How do I search PubMed more effectively?

PubMed is one of the best places to search for anything health and medical related. It is a big place with lots of articles so here are some tips to navigate and be more effective:

  1. Understand that PubMed has a built-in categories list (MeSH = Medical Subject Headings) that organizes all of the articles in PubMed. Search one of your concepts in MeSH to see if there is a match. (See image below for navigation.) Not everyone uses the same definitions and the same context, so understanding how your words will be searched gives you a better understanding of what your results may be. You should use some of these MeSH terms in your search to get the best results.
  2. Getting too much in your PubMed Search? Try:
    • Using AND with another concept to narrow your topic
    • Limit by Publication Type (for example, Randomized Control Trial or Review) so you only see those study types in your results
    • Narrow your publication date
  3. Getting too little in your PubMed Search? Try:
    • Using OR with a synonym/related topic in your search
      • ex. hand washing OR hand hygiene OR hand soap
    • Make sure all of your limiters and filters did not remain from a previous search. This happens often.
    • Try truncating a word in your search
      • Ex. nurs* = nursing OR nurse OR nurses OR nursed
      • USE WISELY!
Things to note on the main page of PubMed