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What's in this Guide

Access PubMed from the Alaska Medical Library web site  to see icons showing full-text availability.

Use the tabs near the top of this page to navigate through this guide. 

  • Find Full Text lists steps to follow to get a complete journal article from a PubMed citation or order a copy if desired.

  • Refine Searches provides information on improving your search results by:

    • Broadening a search using MeSH and Related Articles

    • Narrowing a search using * field tags *History and the Advanced Search window and *limiting retrieval to research-based citations. Also see hints for dealing with too many or too few citations.

  • Find Clinical Articles details two methods to limit your search results.
  • MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), the list of keywords or descriptors that describe articles in MEDLINE. Use MeSH to identify search terms and to focus a search.

  • MyNCBI is online storage for saving searches, search results, PubMed preferences, and for creating automatic email alerts.

What is PubMed

PubMed, developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), provides access to biomedical journal articles, including MEDLINE, and to additional life sciences journals. MEDLINE is NLM's database covering medicine, nursing, dentistry, the health care system, and the preclinical sciences. MEDLINE contains citations and abstracts from over 5400 biomedical journals published in the United States and 70 other countries dating back to the 1940s. Updated 5 times/week.

Access PubMed from the Alaska Medical Library web site  to see icons showing full-text availability.

For More Information

Step-by-Step Instructions

Basic Search Watch Video

Step 1: Enter Your Terms

PubMed Filters (limits) imageType any key word or phrase into the Search box. Use an asterisk (*) to retrieve variations on a word, e.g., bacter* retrieves bacteria, bacterium, bacteriophage, etc.

  • For a Subject Search: Enter one or more words (e.g., asthma drug therapy) in the Search box and click on Search. PubMed automatically "ANDs" (combines) terms together so that all terms or concepts are present, and it translates your words into MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms.

  • For an Author Search: Enter the author's name in the format of last name first followed by initials (e.g., byrnes ca) in either the Search box or the Search by Author option on the Advanced Search Builder page.

  • For a Journal Search: To retrieve articles from a specific journal, use Journals in NCBI Databases or Single Citation Matcher features (available on the PubMed homepage).

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to combine topics in the Search box. Boolean operators should be entered in UPPERCASE and are processed from left to right. Change the order by using parentheses.

Example: osteoporosis AND (drug therapy OR exercise)   If desired use the Search Builder feature on the Advanced Search page.

Step 2: Click on the Search Button to Run Your Search


Step 3: Set Your Filters

  • Use the sidebar filters to restrict your results by language, article type, date, or subset of PubMed, e.g., nursing journals, cancer or bioethics.

  • To add additional filter categories to the sidebar, click the "Show additional filters" link, select the additional categories, and then click Show.

  • When filters are selected a Filters activated message will display on the results page.

  • Note: Filters remain in place until you change or remove them. Limits other than language or date will exclude NEW records that are "in process" or "supplied by Publisher."

  • To turn off filters, click either the “Clear all” link to remove all the filters, the “clear” link next to a filter category to clear the selections within that category, or the individual filter.

Step 4: View Your Results Watch Video

  • At the top of your results list you see the Filters Activated for your search.

  • PubMed citations are displayed in Summary format, 20 at a time, "last in, first out," except results that retrieve a single citation, which will display the Abstract view. You can change the display for all or selected citations by selecting a new display format from the Display Settings link.

      • Summary format: Short bibliographic citation.
      • Abstract format: Bibliographic citation plus abstract of the article and the first 5 Related Articles. Use also for links to full text.

  • After displaying your search results, view single records by clicking on the title of the article or mark a set of references by clicking on the boxes to the left of each citation. Click on the Display Settings link to increase the number of citations per page (up to 200) or sort the order of the citations displayed, e.g., by journal title instead of date.

  • Clipboard Watch Video: Use the Send To link to place citations on the Clipboard, if desired, for later review. The Clipboard is a temporary holding file for all citations collected during your online session.  The Clipboard will be lost after 8 hours of inactivity.
  • The Manage Filters link takes you to My NCBI, your personal space in PubMed where you can configure your results filters.

Step 5: Connect to Full Text, Print/Save/Email Your Citation List, or Order Articles

Go to Find Full Text for detailed instructions.

Step 6: Document Your Strategy Watch Video

Go to the History section on the Advanced Search screen. Either print the screen(s) using your browser or, to avoid copying the entire Advanced Search screen, copy and paste the Search History into a document for future reference.

Contact us

Alaska Medical Library

phone: 907‐786‐1870 or

1‐888‐997‐7878 (in AK)

fax: 907‐786-1834