Always keep in mind the aim of your literature search. If you perform a very broad search, you may find too many irrelevant articles. A very specific search, on the other hand, may result in fewer articles, but you will risk missing some important ones.
When working on an extensive search, you may want to keep track of the search strategy in a logbook. You can save your work with a My NCBI account (See tab: Records) or by documenting the search strategy in a Word or Excel document.Keeping a logbook is also a good idea, if you want to translate your search to other databases, such as Embase or Cochrane.
In PubMed's Advanced search (See tab: Combine search terms) the search history can be downloaded into a .csv file. Excel can be used to convert this into columns via the tab Data > Text to columns. Next, choose separated and comma (csv means comma separated values).
When retrieving too many results, there are several options to limit the number of results:
Similarly when retrieving too few results, there are several options to broaden your search:
When you are not sure whether a MeSH term actually exists for your topic:
|Look up the term in the MeSH Database
|Simply add [MeSH] to the search term
PubMed is not always smart enough to automatically match the right MeSH term.
References in PubMed can easily be exported to reference managers, such as EndNote.
PubMed references in EndNote have swapped their abbreviated journal titles with their full journal titles. To correct this, first import a list with correct journal titles in your empty EndNote library (before any references have been added).
Go to Library > Open Term Lists > Journals Term List. Under the tab 'Lists' choose 'Journals' and 'Import List', and open pubmed_journals‑beta.txt. You can download the file via:
More information on EndNote