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Biomedical Engineering

Tips and Techniques for using PubMed or Ovid MedLine

What is PubMed?

PubMed is a free resource that is developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  It is an extremely popular database but it's important to remember that PubMed does not include full text articles.  However, there are a few ways to access full text in PubMed:

  • Use the Filter your results portlet in PubMEd, and click the Free Full Text filter link to limit your results to articles that are freely available on the Web.

  • Click on the button to see if the full text of the article is available through the Library.

  • Follow this link on PubMed citations to PubMed Central: 

    graphic element

To access the article, click the Free article link to go to the abstract format, and then click the “Free full text article in PubMed Central” icon.

How do I find a citation in PubMed?

If you have an article citation the best way to find the article is to use the Single Citation Matcher option from the menu on the left side of the page.

How do I find an author in PubMed?

To find an author you may simply type the author's name in the default search box on the main page or enter their name in the Author box of the Advanced Search.

Search Tip   Since they may publish under different variants of their name, finding authors can be challenging.  To be sure you are using all of the variants of an author's name use Web of Science's Author Finder.  This is especially useful for finding authors with common names.

How to I find journal articles on a specific topic in PubMed?

  • My recommendation is to use the Advanced Search (linked beside the single search box on the main page.  Use the drop-down menus to designate what you wish to search.  I usually begin with a Title or Title/Abstract search.

  • Be aware of the search limits below the Advanced Search.  Some of the limits included: type of article, gender, and ages.

  • Use MeSH terms. MeSH is a comprehensive controlled vocabulary for the purpose of indexing journal articles and books in the life sciences; it can also serve as a thesaurus that facilitates searching. Search MeSH terms by using the drop-down menu in the Advanced Search.


How do I export PubMed articles into Refworks?

1.  Conduct your search.

2.  Mark the records you wish to export.

3.  From the Send To option, select File as your Destination.

4.  Select Medline as your Format.

5.  Select a Sort By option and click the Create File button.

6.  Save the file to your desktop (or alternatively, open the file)

7.  In RefWorks, go to References, Import.

8.  Select NLM PubMed as the Data Source and Database.

9.  Browse to find the file you saved to your desktop (if you opened the file, copy and paste the text into the Importing Data from the

     Following Text area).

10.  Click the Import button.

11.  Your references will appear in the Last Imported Folder.