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PubMed (English): Introduction

This LibGuide provides an overview of the various search options in the biomedical database PubMed.

Which PubMed e-learning should I take?

The Medical Library offers several e‑learning modules on PubMed.

  • Are you new to PubMed or do you need to brush up your PubMed skills?
    Take the module Xerte learning object PubMed Basics
  • Would you like to practice with advanced PubMed options such as Major Topic, subheadings and [tiab]?
    Take the module Xerte learning object PubMed Advanced

This LibGuide provides an overview of search options in PubMed for users who are familiar with the basics.

What is PubMed?

PubMed logoPubMed is a freely searchable database with citations for biomedical literature, comprising:

  • > 30 million citations dating back to ca. 1946
  • > 5600 biomedical journals

NLM logo

The content is managed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the US.


QuestionWhat is the difference between PubMed and MEDLINE?
Nowadays, the content of PubMed and MEDLINE are nearly identical. MEDLINE has a small delay (of a few days) in entering new articles, but offers more advanced search options.

How do I access PubMed?

The easiest way to access PubMed is via the PubMed URL of the University Library. Each reference then contains the Radboud Full Text link link, which provides access to full text articles from the collection of the University Library.

This link also enables staff members and students of the Radboud University and Radboudumc to access the full text articles at home. Users can log in with their S-, Z- or U-number.

Overview: Search options in PubMed

1. Simple subject search
You can easily search by subject by typing the search term or terms in the search box. The automatic term mapping function includes the most suitable MeSH terms (See tab: MeSH) in the search.

Follow these tutorials for a short demo:
PubMed Subject Search (1 min)
PubMed Subject Search: How it works (4 min)

Question
For example, what goes wrong when you search for 'labor' (as in: giving birth)?

2. Searching with MeSH and tiab
For a complete search, always combine MeSH terms (See tab: MeSH) with search terms in the title and/or abstract [tiab] (See tab: Search by Word).

3. History & Advanced Search Builder
To view the search history, click Advanced right below the search box. This opens the Advanced Search Builder (See tab: Combine Search Terms) where you can build your search in a structured, step-by-step way.

4. Limiting results with filters & Clinical Queries
Once you have combined the different components of your query into a final search strategy, you can limit your results with filters and/or Clinical Queries (See tab: Filters & Clinical Queries).

Creating a structured search strategy