This guide will introduce you to searching in Pubmed.

What is Pubmed?

PubMed comprises more than 35 million citations (including title and abstract) for biomedical literature. The Carleton library provides links to the library’s online full-text subscriptions.


When searching PubMed, be as specific as possible with your topic. Enter your search terms and click on the Search button. A list of results is displayed. PubMed translates your search terms into its own language called MeSH (medical subject headings) that are used to index each article. Each article usually has 12-15 MeSH terms. You can use MeSH terms to find similar articles.


On the left hand side of the results list are filters. Filters will help narrow down and focus your results list. You can filter by publication date, articles type, age, and many others by clicking on the filter of interest. More filters can be seen by clicking on the Additional filters link found at the bottom of the list.

View an abstract

To view the full abstract click on the title of a citation in the results list.

To view the MeSH terms associated with the citation scroll down the page or click on the MeSH terms link in the navigation panel on the right hand side. You can click on any of the MeSH terms and search PubMed using the term.

Similar articles

If you have found an abstract that is very relevant and want to find similar articles, there is an easy way to do this in PubMed. On the abstract page, scroll down to Similar articles or click on the link on the right hand side. There is a list of 5 related article titles. You can click on Show more similar articles or See all similar articles to see more.

Access Full Text

To access full text articles you can click on a link under Full text Links. The GetIT button links to the library subscriptions. There are often buttons for open access (free on the internet) articles and publisher buttons which may or may not provide free access to the full-text article.

Sending Citations to a Citation Manager

You can export your citations to your preferred citation manager. For more information on how to install a particular citation manager, see the Citation Management guide.

Select the citations you want. Click on Send to. If the button is not visible click on the three dots at the top of the results list. Select Citation Manager from the list. Click on Create file. You can download the file then upload into your citation manager.

More Help

For more help you can view the Quick Tours section from the National Library of Medicine.

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