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Pharmacy: Searching PubMed

Resources for Harrison School of Pharmacy

General tips

  1. Always go to PubMed through the library's website, or with this direct url, for maximum full text access.
  2. Choose major concepts/keywords to search. 

Searching with subject headings

In PubMed, subject headings are known as MeSH or Medical Subject Headings.

  1. You can search for subject headings in the MeSH database,
  2. Enter one of the concepts in your topic and click Search.
  3. Note you can simply note the mesh term you found and add it to a search from the PubMed home page. Alternatively, you can choose to search only with subject headings. Searching only with subject headings should make your search more precise, but you may miss sources that have not had subject headings added yet. 

To search only with Subject Headings follow these steps:

  1. Enter your concept in the search box and search.
  2. If offered a list, choose the most specific term applicable to your topic by clicking on it.
  3. If desired, choose one or more subheadings to further narrow your topic, for example most diseases/conditions offer the option of narrowing to drug therapy.
  4. Click on Add to search builder.
  5. Repeat steps for each additional concept in your topic.
  6.  When all desired concepts are added, click Search PubMed.
  7. Note that some concepts will not have MeSH terms, you will have to add those as keywords. 
  8. Note that it is easier to add some concepts such as age or gender with filters after the search rather than including them in the search.
  9. For more information, watch this 3 minute video below about using MeSH.

Search history

  1. Click Advanced (under the search box at the top) to view previous searches under History.
  2. You can revisit any search by clicking on the number under the Results column.
  3. You can also combine searches by clicking Add Query, (in the column labeled Action)
  4. Note that when you click Add Query for one search, Actions for other searches will allow you to add the subsequent search with AND, OR, or NOT. Click here for an explanation of how Boolean operators work
  5. When you have finished adding searches, click Search.

Filtering Searches

Searches can be filtered using the filters shown on the left of the results page.

You can filter by:

  1. Article types (for example to  just randomized controlled trials). If the article type you need is not shown, click Additional filters at the end of the list.
  2. Publication date (5 years, 10 years, or a specific range)
  3. Species (human or animals)
  4. Language (many options)
  5. Sex (male or female)
  6. Ages (many options)

Notice that some filters and filter categories  do not show up automatically. Click Additional  Filters to see all options.

Viewing Abstracts

View abstracts of individual articles by clicking on the article title.

View abstracts of an entire list of search results by:

  • clicking on the Display Options (upper right)
  • Choosing Abstract for Format.
  • Note you can also choose to see more results on a page using Display Options and/or change the way results are sorted.

Full Text

In Abstract view, you should see links, either from individual publishers and/or the Full Text Finder button from Auburn Libraries.

  • When in abstract view for a single article, the links will appear in the upper right.
  • When in abstract view for a list of articles, the link will appear under the abstract.


Try the publisher links first, if they don't work or ask for payment, try the Full Text Finder link. 

For more information about using Full Text Finder, check out the Finding full text tab on this guide.

Saving Search Results

To send yourself a copy of citations:

  1. click the box to the left of the desired citations (or leave boxes blank to send all results)
  2. click Email (above the search results)
  3. enter your email address and click Email
  4. the email will show up as Sent from NCBI but may take up to 30 to 45 minutes to appear.

Health Sciences Librarian

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Adelia Grabowsky
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