Our previous PubMed article described how you could search for journal articles using simple search terms, like you would on the Internet. However, if you want your search to be more targeted and effective, you should use MeSH search terms.
What’s MeSH? Sounds messy.
MeSH (Medical Subject Heading Terms) terms are medically-oriented keywords. Because PubMed is indexing medical journal articles, you will generate better search results if you use medical terms used by PubMed. Previously, our approach was:
- Enter keywords into PubMed
- Get results
Using MeSH terms, our approach will be:
- Enter keywords in MeSH to find MeSH terms
- Enter those MeSH terms into PubMed
- Get more targeted results
Great! How do I do this?
First, go to the MeSH homepage. Then enter a keyword in the search box, and click the “Go” button. In this example, we’ve entered “hepatitis” and the results are displayed below the term.
Every term or phrase listed here by number is a MeSH search term. Below each term is the definition for that term. Find the terms that most closely match what you have in mind, and check the box next to them. Then click the “Send to” drop-down box and choose “Search Box with AND.” A second search box appears above your search results with the MeSH term inside.
Now you can add additional MeSH terms to further refine your search. Try entering “child” in the field at the top, and click “Go” to get MeSH terms related to “child.” Then click the box(es) next to your desired terms, and send them to the search box as you did in the step above.
If you want to exclude a term, choose “Search Box with NOT.”
If you want to search for articles that contain at least one of the terms you’ve sent to the search box, but not necessarily all of them, choose “Search Box with OR.”
Once you’ve sent your desired MeSH terms to the search box, click the “PubMed Search” button directly below it. You will then see a page of results, like the example below:
You can now interact with the search results as we discussed in our previous PubMed article. Watch the blog for future articles on PubMed searching.