Searching PubMed


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Research Scenario

PubMed includes many types of items including clinical trials, systematic reviews, and articles from leading journals.


Your Research Topic: Complementary medicine treatments for women diagnosed with skin cancer.

Simple Search

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Our first step will be to select some good key terms.

Your Turn:

  • Using the main search box, enter the words skin cancer treatment
  • Click Search


Simple Search

2 of 3You should have retrieved around 90,000 results. Let's take a look at how PubMed translated your search.

Your Turn:

  • Scroll down and locate the Search Details box to the far right
  • Click See more...


Simple Search

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Take a look at the Query Translation search box and the Translations box

What term does PubMed use for "skin cancer"?


What is MeSH?

Using Filters

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Your Turn:

  • Click either Search button to go back to your results

90,000 is a lot of results and many of these probably aren't applicable to our research.

We can tailor our results by using PubMed's filters.

  • Click Show additional filters on the left-side menu


Using Filters

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This will open a new dialog box with a list of the possible filters. For example, you can filter for species, sex, and age.


Your Turn:

  • Place a check next to Subjects and Sex
  • Click Show

Now set the following filters on the left-side menu:

  • Under Publication Dates, click 5 years

This eliminates all items from your search that are more than five years old. You should now have around 20,000 results.

Using Filters

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Let's narrow these down further by using more filters.

Your Turn:

  • Under Species, click Humans
  • Under Sex, click Female
  • Under Subjects, click Customize...
  • Then check Complementary Medicine
  • Click Show
  • Then click Complementary Medicine again


You should now have around 900 results.


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Take a look at the titles of some of your results.

What do you notice about these items?


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PubMed defaults to displaying your results by the year they were published. Let's change this.

Your Turn:

  • Locate the Sort by link towards the top of the screen


  • Click the arrow next to Most Recent
  • Choose Best Match
  • Now take a look at your results. Do these seem like a better fit?

Article Types

PubMed includes many different types of articles including clinical trials and systematic reviews.

Systematic reviews are "the basis for what is often called evidence-based medicine or health care." In other words, it reports on what really works.

Your Turn:

  • Under Article Types and Subjects, click Systematic Reviews

This should bring your results down to around 200.

Accessing Articles

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  • Scroll thorough some of your results noting the full text accessibility

Many of your results are marked Image that displays Free PMC Article Text. orImage that displays Free Article Text.

As a UA affiliate you also have access to the other articles.

Your Turn:

  • Click on the article "Consensus for nonmelanoma skin cancer treatment: basal cell carcinoma, including a cost analysis of treatment methods."

Accessing Articles

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To access articles, you want to locate the different access points in the Full text links panel to the right.


  • In this case, you want to click on the Wolters Kluwer link


Note this will open the article in a new window or tab. Come back to this tab to continue with the tutorial.

Related Citations

PubMed uses a word-weighted algorithm to compare words from each citation. The best matches are stored as a related citation set.

Your Turn:

  • Note the different titles in the Similar articles panel.
  • Hover over each link to see more information

What topic do all of these related citations have in common?

All Done!

 You have completed this introductory tutorial to PubMed.

Feel free to explore the database and learn more about how it can help you in your research.

To leave us feedback on this tutorial, go on to the next page.



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