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Master of Science: Search Tips

Searching PubMed

What is PubMed?

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"Question Mark" by WingedWolf, used under CC BY

PubMed is a free platform that allows you to search Medline, which contains over 19 million biomedical citations.  

Although you may see citations for free in PubMed, you must be affiliated with a library that subscribes to journals to access full text versions of most of the content in PubMed.

The National Library of Medicine provides a variety of handouts and training regarding searching PubMed.


Video Tutorials

Platform Vs. Database

PubMed and Medline Logos

Did you search "PubMed" or did you search "Medline"?

  • PubMed is a platform or host.  Medline is a database.
  • The database, Medline, may be accessed through the platform, PubMed.
  • You use the search functionality of PubMed to search Medline.  You could also use First Search, Web of Knowledge, or Ovid platforms to search Medline. 

Why does it matter?

  • In order to fully explain your research process you must know where you searched and how you did so.
  • If you tell someone that you searched EBSCO (a platform/host), that only informs him/her of the look and feel of the search mechanism you used. He/She needs to know which database you searched through EBSCO to assess the subject matter and content of that database.
  • By default, if you search PubMed you will be searching Medline as well as some other things.  
  • If you use First Search or another platform, you may only be searching Medline.  This is why it's important to note whether you've used PubMed or another platform to search Medline.

Other Common Platforms in Medicine (not used at LMU):

  • Ovid
  • ProQuest
  • Web of Knowledge

How to Link LMU databases articles to PubMED searches

How to access LMU articles from PubMed:
Start on PubMED home page:

Create a my NCBI account in PubMed (look on the top right corner of the Pubmed screen for a sign in link). After you create the account, click on My NCBI in the top right corner. Then choose NCBI site preferences (also on the top right). Look on the left middle of the screen for Outside Tool. Click on it and then choose Lincoln Memorial University from the alphabetical list. Make sure the radio button is filled. Scroll all the way to the bottom and hit SAVE. After this, whenever you do a search and get results that LMU students/faculty have access to, you will see a button on the top right under the Full Text Links box that says LMU Reed Health Sciences Library. Click on that button to access the article. If you are off site, you will need your library login and password which are the same as your mylmu account but without the on the login.

General Search Tips

What is the purpose of your search?

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"Question Mark" by WingedWolf, used under CC BY

The purpose of your search has a huge effect on how many databases you search and how you format your search strategy.  

Consider the number of articles you have time to search through and whether you are working with a team of not.

Remember, searching is an art, not a science.  There are different ways to come up with an effective search.

Which of the following best describes your search need?

I need "a few good articles" to get me started on a topic.

I need a thorough, but not comprehensive, list of articles on my topic.

I would like to perform a systematic review.