Last update: 17 May 2013,
by Maureen Bell
The Library has a customised version of PubMed which contains links to the full text of articles from many of our electronic journals. However as there are not links to all of our journals it's a good idea to check our e-Journals list if you can't get full text direct from PubMed.
Below are links to our customised version - you'll need to login in the usual way.
Access for University of Adelaide staff and students
Access for SA Mental Health Services staff
Searching - the essentials
Boolean logic - don't let faulty logic sabotage a good search
All databases rely on the use of Boolean (logical) operators - It's important when searching databases to understand the use of AND, OR, NOT to connect your search terms. PubMed's tutorial gives a clear explanation of how Boolean logic works.
In a nutshell:-
OR gives you more
AND gives you less
NOT is to be used with caution!
What is MeSH (and why do I need to know!)?
PubMed MeSH Database
MeSH simply stands for Medlical Subject Headings. It is Medline's thesaurus of indexing terms. Each journal article included in Medline is indexed with terms from the thesaurus to represent its subject content.
MeSH is where the real search power of PubMed lies, so it's worth taking a few minutes to understand how it works. There are three animated tutorials which demonstrate different features of MeSH, so sit back and let it demonstrate how clever it is.
Searching with the MeSH Database
Combining MeSH Terms Using the MeSH Database
Applying Subheadings and Other Features of the MeSH Database
PubMed - List of MeSH Subheadings
Subheadings are used with MeSH terms (from Medline's thesaurus of indexing terms) to help describe more completely a particular aspect of a subject - for example, the drug therapy of asthma is displayed as asthma/drug therapy. This link provides you with a list of all subheadings and their abbreviations.
It is possible to append subheadings to many MeSH terms, or you can search them separately using the field tag [SH]
Why do I need to look for words in titles and abstracts - and how do I do it?
The very latest material in PubMed is not indexed, and you'll see that entries are labelled [PubMed - in process] or [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]. In these cases there are no MeSH terms available to search, so you'll need to look for words in titles and abstracts of articles.
In a nutshell:
Enter the word (or phrase) followed by [tiab]
How do I look for authors?
PubMed has a video demonstration of how to Search by Author
In a nutshell:-
Enter the author’s last name plus initials, without punctuation, in the search box followed by [au]
How do I look for a specific journal?
PubMed has a video tutorial on how to Search for a Journal
In a nutshell:-
Enter the full title of the journal, followed by [ta]
New England Journal of Medicine[ta]
Enter the title abbreviation
N Engl J Med
Enter the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
Limiting Your Search - to make the results more relevant
The PubMed results screen now has a sidebar which will allow you to tailor your search results, by using a variety of limits. It's better to add limits once your search is completed.
PubMed: The Filters Sidebar - YouTube
Dealing with results
Saving and E-mailing Results and Searches
Instructions from the National Library of Medicine for saving a list of citations temporarily (using Clipboard) or permanently (using My NCBI) saving searches with My NCBI, creating a URL to bookmark a search, or saving a search as an RSS feed.
Demonstrations are available in the PubMed tutorial
PubMed Tutorial - Saving the Search - Send to Email
PubMed Tutorial - Saving the Search - Send to RSS Feed
My NCBI Help
My NCBI allows you to save searches and set up regular alerts (by email or RSS) of new material on your topic. This site explains evrything you need to know, including deleting or changing saved searches.
There are also video demonstrations for the following:-
Saving Searches and Setting up Email Updates - Videos
Save Searches and Set Email Alerts (Video)
Changing Saved Searches (Video)
Email Alerts for Articles from your Favourite Journals (Video)
Searching with precision and panache (advanced searching help)
Expert Searching in PubMed
This is a single page guide produced by the Countway Library at Harvard University. Don't be put off by the "expert" - it's a very useful and easy to follow guide with lots of examples to help you to take advantage of PubMed's incredible search power.
Combining searches using your Search History
This section of the PubMed tutorial shows you how to combine searches.
PubMed Clinical Queries
This specialized search is intended for clinicians and has built-in search "filters". Options available are Clinical Study Categories, Systematic Reviews, and Medical Genetics.
PubMed Subset Strategies
To make searching easier PubMed has a number of subset strategies. The links in the list below will show you the details of their search strategies, and how to add the subsets to your searches
History of Medicine
Space Life Sciences
These are very easy to apply at the end of a search, and clear instructions are given with examples.
These are extremely useful options that you can use to limit a subject search to a particular subset of journals. eg cancer AND jsubsete will find artuicles on cancer in bioethics journals.
jsubsetaim - Core clinical journals
jsubsetd - Dentistry journals
jsubsete - Bioethics journals
jsubseth - Health administration journals
jsubsetk - Consumer health journals
jsubsetn - Nursing journals
jsubsetq - History of medicine journals
jsubsett - Health technology assessment journals
jsubsetx - AIDS/HIV journals
PubMed Publication Types
It can sometimes be very useful to limit a search by publication type. The options available on Medline are described here. They are searched by adding Publication Type [PT] e.g., Review[pt], Clinical Trial[pt], Letter[pt].
PubMed Search Field Descriptions and Tags
Lists of the various fields you can search in PubMed - and their labels, or tags.
PubMed Online Training
A step by step, interactive PubMed Online tutorial giving detailed instructions on every aspect of PubMed is also available from the National Library of Medicine.
MEDLINEplus (National Library of Medicine)
Unlike PubMed this version of Medline has been specifically tailored to the information needs of consumers. Emphasis of MEDLINEplus is on information available from NLM and NIH and includes links to searches of MEDLINE, and to the many full-text publications produced by the NIH institutes. The information includes sections on health topics, dictionaries and glossaries for finding definitions of medical terms, links to major associations and clearinghouses, publications and news items, directories of health professionals and health facilities and libraries that provide health information services for the public. It is stated very clearly that this information is for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace advice from a health professional, and there is a page which gives details of MEDLINEplus: Quality Guidelines
NLM Catalog: Journals referenced in the NCBI Databases
This database will allow you to search for journal details by journal name, MEDLINE abbreviation, or ISSN (International Standard Serial Number - this is the equivalent of a journal's unique fingerprint).
A digital archive of free full text life sciences journal literature. The PMC journal list comprises journals that deposit material in PMC on a routine basis and generally make all their published articles available here.
An online manual which provides help with all aspects of PubMed.
This section allows you to check on new features added to PubMed.
PubMed Single Citation Matcher
This excellent feature of PubMed allows you to find a reference for which you may lack complete details. I've even managed to find an article where I knew a few words from the title and a (first) page number.
I've provided links to some individual tutorials in the previous sections of this page - here is the complete range, including videos and interactive tutorials.