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Optometry Journal Club: PubMed

Course Guide

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Searching PubMed

PubMed: Citations to journal articles on health and medical topics, with links to full text via Get it at UC Get it at UC icon

PubMed has 2 groups of citations: MEDLINE (with MeSH terms applied), and citations without MeSH terms (i.e., In Process Citations, Publisher-Supplied Citations).

PubMed searching top tips:
  1. Combine terms with AND or OR
  2. Use Filters (eg, Ages, Article types, Languages, etc.)
  3. Search for your term as a word in the title or title or abstract (using Filters, Advanced Search, or Field Tags
  4. Use MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), with subheadings
  5. Use the Similar articles link located by each citation
  6. Make sure to combine your MeSH term search with a keyword search to find the msot relevant and newest citations.
  7. Try PubMed's Clinical Queries
  8. Always keep in mind the question you are trying to answer when creating a search strategy and when reviewing the articles you find

PubMed: Search Tips & More: Basic search guide with link to PubMed exercise set (docx). Start here to learn how to search PubMed more effectively

Clinical Queries:

  • Finding systematic reviews on your topic can help you find more research literature and give you a sense of the body of knowledge on a topic.
  • For Clinical Studies:
        Using the etiology filter is useful a "cause of disease" search.
        Therapy encompasses any type of intervention (including diet, health education, etc.).

Using MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)

Why MeSH?
Using Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH, may help you retrieve more relevant search results. MeSH are the subject terms applied to nearly all PubMed citations. However, it is important to remember that some PubMed citations - including the very newest citations - do not have MeSH terms applied to them, and therefore will not appear in a search that exclusively uses MeSH terms.

Three ways to search using MeSH:

  • Use the MeSH terms from a known, relevant article: Search for a known article, click to open the full record, then scroll down to see the MeSH terms applied to that article. Clicking on a MeSH term will allow you to either search PubMed using only that term, or add that term to the search box; you can then add additional terms and execute your search.
  • Use the MeSH Database to find terms, then build a search using those terms: Step-by step instructions may be found in the PubMed User Guide (scroll down to "Launch PubMed searches from the MeSH database").
  • Use Advanced Search to search using known MeSH terms: If you know the MeSH terms you want to use for your search, click Advanced under the Search box, then use the drop-down menu in Advanced Search. Instructions in the PubMed User Guide.

To see suggested MeSH terms based on a block of submitted text (ie, an abstract, article, etc.), use the MeSH on Demand tool. MeSH on Demand also lists similar PubMed articles relevant to your submitted text, thus MeSH on Demand can help you find articles similar to a known, relevant article.

MeSH Subheadings (or "Qualifiers") help focus your search results more precisely.
In the MeSH Database, select desired subheadings, then click Add to search builder, then click Search PubMed:

MeSH Database showing subheadings of a MeSH term