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How to use PubMed

How to retrieve super relevant medical information super fast.

WHAT is PubMed?

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What is in PubMed? 

PubMed is a free database of more than 30 million citations for published articles in the fields of biomedicine and health. 

PubMed includes the MEDLINE® database; citations for articles in the PubMed Central (PMC) free full text archive, including articles that report on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and citations for books from the NCBI online Bookshelf.

PubMed also includes links to the full text from other sources, when available, and to databases subscribed to by the SIT Library.  

Use the search box at for all directions described on this page and so generously provided by the National Library of Medicine. 

   What is in PubMed? Learn what you can find in PubMed, and how it got there in a short 4 minute video.

How to search PubMed by AUTHOR

  • Search by the author’s last name and initials (without punctuation)


  • If you only know the author’s last name, use the author search field tag [au], e.g., brody[au]




  • If your author shares a common name with others, find an article by your author of interest and click on the link of the author’s name
finding an author with a popular name

video   PubMed: Find Articles by AUTHOR -  a 2 minute interactive tutorial on how  to find articles by an author using PubMed

How to research a TOPIC

  • Enter your search terms into the search box
  • Be specific
  • Avoid quotation marks
  • Avoid truncation (*)
search by topic

PubMed will add relevant Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®), and other synonyms to improve your search. Use the “Advanced” function (found under the search box) to see your search details.  

   PubMed: Find articles on a topic - a 1 minute tutorial on how to find articles on a topic using PubMed.

How to find a known ARTICLE

  • Search by article title - copy the article title into the search box 
  • Enter the citation elements you have (author, title words, journal, volume, year, etc.) and let PubMed’s citation sensor find the article for you (e.g., nolte blood 2019)
  • Use the “Advanced” function (found under the search box), to search by journal name
known article

How to find FULL TEXT

Free Full Text Filter 

After you click “search,” a Filter Sidebar will appear on the left. Click "Free full text" to narrow results to resources that are available online for free, including PubMed Central, Bookshelf, and publishers' websites. 

full text check boxes

PubMed Central (PMC)   

When full text is available in PubMed Central, the "Free in PMC" icon will appear on the citation's abstract display under Full-Text Links. Click the icon to view the article in PMC. PubMed Central is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. 

From the Publisher 

Journal publishers or related organizations may provide access to articles for free, for free after registering as an individual or guest, or for a fee. When available, icons linking to these sources can be found on the citation's abstract display under the "Full-Text Links" and/or "LinkOut" sections.

Hospital, University, or Other Major Institution 

The SIT library will provide access to academic journals. When viewing an abstract, if you see the button "Check SITLibrary", this indicates a link to the article. If the SIT library does not have access to the article you need, ask a librarian about InterLibrary Loan. Please note that you will need to set up an NCBI account in order to see any SIT Library buttons. 

Where to find more HELP

Help - PubMed

Last update: June 16, 2020 Follow PubMed New and Noteworthy for brief announcements highlighting recent enhancements and changes to PubMed. For many searches, it is not necessary to use special tags or syntax. PubMed uses multiple tools to help you find relevent results: Best Match sort order uses a state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm to place the most relevant citations at the top of your results.

We are grateful to the National Library of Medicine for allowing us to use and edit their guide.


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