PubMed: Refining Searches with MeSH

5 04 2010

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:

  1. Enter keywords into PubMed
  2. Get results

Using MeSH terms, our approach will be:

  1. Enter keywords in MeSH to find MeSH terms
  2. Enter those MeSH terms into PubMed
  3. 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.

Finding MeSH terms

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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.

Sending MeSH terms to the new search box

Click to enlarge

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:

Getting results from your MeSH terms

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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.





Searching Parents…Meet PubMed!

15 03 2010

When you’re a parent searching for information about your child’s medical condition, it doesn’t take long to exhaust the online resources most readily available. MedlinePlus…  Mayo Clinic…  WebMD…  But where do you go when you need more?

If you’re ready to dig deep, you can turn to journal articles for more information and research. One way to search journal articles is to visit NIH’s PubMed website.

You can enter keywords into the search box at the top of the page, and you will get results. But you’ll get a lot of them, and some won’t really be as targeted as you’d like. There are a number of ways to get better results, and we’ll be discussing these in upcoming posts, but today we’re going to show you the most economical: Filter by free text!

First, enter some keywords to search by and click the “Search” button. In our demo shots below, we use “chronic pediatric hepatitis.”

PubMed homepage

The next page will shows you some results. Depending on your personality, you’re either happy to see the 488 results returned by this search, or reeling with shock at the thought of sifting through 488 results! But for today’s purposes, we’re going to narrow our results the thrifty way, by clicking on “Free Full Text” on the right side of the screen.

Search results for "chronic pediatric hepatitis"

Below you can see the 61 free, full text articles available to you. Click on the “Free article” link under the citation.

Search results showing only those with free full text available

PubMed shows you services on the right that provide the article’s text free online. Choose one and start reading!

Links to free full text

Watch the blog for more posts on conducting targeted searches and finding full-text articles both on and offline.

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