Get More from PubMed

Brandi Tuttle's picture

Have you ever wondered if you are getting all that you can from PubMed? Check out these tips and tricks to make sure you are finding all the research on your topic and getting free access to articles in the Duke collections.

1. Click on PubMed from the Medical Library’s Website to get full text available through Duke, or bookmark the link: https://mclibrary.duke.edu/pubmed

PubMed is liberally scattered throughout the Medical Library’s Website (on the main page under Quicklinks, Clinical Tools page, and more). Using one of these PubMed links ensures you will see the Get it @ Duke button, which will either provide you with access to the full text of an article or offer you options to order it. If off-campus, you may be directed to login with your Duke NetID and password to access full text.

2. Looking for a specific article?  Try the Single Citation Matcher from PubMed's homepage

Use the Single Citation Matcher to find an article with only a few pieces of the citation.
Pro Tip: Start with just the journal title, year, and first page number…not the whole citation. Many citations contain inaccuracies, so switch out pieces of citation information if you don’t have success.

3. Under the Hood – MeSH terms (Medical Subject Headings)

Humans read every article in PubMed and assign standardized terms, called MeSH, to each article to help researchers find articles. Remember, you don’t search the full text of an article, just the citation information and MeSH terms for that article. By incorporating MeSH terms on your topic, you’ll increase the accuracy of your search results. Note: Since the assignment of MeSH terms can take a few months, it’s important to search using both text words AND MeSH to find newer articles. See Tip #4

4. PubMed goes above and beyond as it tries to search appropriate MeSH terms, as well as your keywords. Scroll down to find the Search details box on the right side of the search results to make sure PubMed used appropriate MeSH terms for your concepts.

Example: ssri AND depression

    • Select "See more" under the Search details box

("serotonin uptake inhibitors"[Pharmacological Action] OR "serotonin uptake inhibitors"[MeSH Terms] OR ("serotonin"[All Fields] AND "uptake"[All Fields] AND "inhibitors"[All Fields]) OR "serotonin uptake inhibitors"[All Fields] OR "ssri"[All Fields]) AND ("depressive disorder"[MeSH Terms] OR ("depressive"[All Fields] AND "disorder"[All Fields]) OR "depressive disorder"[All Fields] OR "depression"[All Fields] OR "depression"[MeSH Terms])

    • The example shows you how PubMed expands your search to include the SSRI pharmacological actions, appropriate MeSH terms, and keywords so you can find more relevant articles! Don’t miss relevant research.

5. Use Filters to narrow and refine your results

    • While all PubMed filters are available on the left-hand side of the search results, we’ve customized PubMed to help you get to the best evidence quickly using the filters on the right.
    • Some commonly used filters (ages and languages) are hidden under the "Show additional filters" option on the left.
    • Filter selections remain active until deselected or you choose "Clear all."
    • Adding filters can be useful, but you may miss newer results that have not been indexed yet (Note: This is not a problem for the Language and Publication Date filters). 
    • To create your own custom filters, see Setting Up Filters in PubMed.
    • Don’t use the Free Full Text or Full Text Filter or you will miss relevant results from resources that Duke owns or from those that could be requested through the Document Delivery/InterLibrary Loan Service.

My NCBI streamlines research

Log into My NCBI in the top right corner of PubMed:

    • If you have NIH funding, click on NIH Login and use your eRA Commons credentials. 
    • Otherwise, we recommend creating a My NCBI account.

Save searches and keep up on new research

      • Save Searches: click Create Alerts under the search box after you have run your search.
      • Choose "Yes" to receive emails when new items come in on the topic (you set the frequency). Select “No” to just save the search and later you can go to My NCBI to see what articles are new since you last ran your saved search. 

Create & Share Collections

      • To make a collection: Select the desired articles from your Search results, click Send to: Collections and Add to Collections. Then select to add to an existing collection or create a new collection. 
      • To share a collection: Go to your My NCBI page and find the Collections box. Then click on the gear icon for a specific collection and select Public to get a URL to share.

Customize your PubMed experience

      • Create customized Filters: On your My NCBI page, scroll to the Filters box and click Manage Filters. Select the filters you would like to see available for your PubMed searches.
      • You can also create custom filters (i.e. limit results to RCTs in a specific age group, from particular journals, or more). 

Note: When you are signed into My NCBI, your preferences override the Library’s custom filters you normally see to the right of your search results. Librarians can help you add some or all back to your account.

Want more information? See PubMed Tutorials and Tips, My NCBI Home Page (YouTube Quick Tour), and My NCBI Help