Pubmed Guide

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 service disruption.

This guide will introduce you to searching in Pubmed.

What is Pubmed?

PubMed comprises more than 29 million citations (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. 


Pubmed filters image

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 Show additional filters link.

View an abstract

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

MeSH terms below a citation abstract

To view the MeSH terms associated with the citation click on the line, Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances found at the bottom of the citation and a list of the MeSH terms will appear.  You can click on any of the MeSH terms and search Pubmed using the term.

Similar articles

Pubmed Related Citations image

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, on the right had side, there is a section entitled Similar articles.  Below the list of 5 related article titles are two links: See reviews... and See all....  Click on the See all... link to see a list of related citations.

Access Full Text

GetIT button image

To access full text articles you can click on the GetIT button on the upper right hand side of the abstract page.  There are often buttons for open access (free on the internet) articles and publishers buttons which may or may not provide free access to the full-text article.

Sending Citations to a Reference Manager

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

  • EndnotePubmed export
    • In PubMed select the references you want to send to Endnote.
    • From the Send to: menu select Citation Manager.
    • Endnote import Open your Endnote Web account and select the Collect tab and then Import References from the sub-menu.
    • On the Import References page
      • Next to File: click the Browse button and navigate to the file with your saved PubMed citations (it is called citations.nbib)
      • Next to Filter: select PubMed (NLM)
      • Next to To: select New group.
      • Click Import.  You will be prompted to name the new group.
  • MendeleyPubmed export
    • In PubMed select the references you want to send to Mendeley.
    • From the Send to: menu select Citation Manager.
    • Zotero icon Create a new folder for your references in Mendeley.
    • Find the file of the references on your computer.  It is called citations.nbib
    • Drag and drop the file into the new folder
  • Zotero
    • Zotero icon You can add references to Zotero from the PubMed results list. 
    • Open Zotero by clicking on the Z button.
    • Creat a new folder.
    • Zotero icon In the Firefox toolbar, next to the Z button, click on the icon to save the results (or you can click on the down arrow to select an option). 
    • A list of the results will appear in a separate window.  You can save all the results or select just a few.
    • Click on OK to import the references.
      • You can also select then export references from Pubmed in the .nbib format and import the file into Zotero.



Content last reviewed: January 2, 2019