How to search on Pubmed? See five useful search engine functions

Searching PubMed is one way to find scientific publications in the health field. The portal is very useful for searching for qualified information extracted from scientific journals and digital books, and the platform covers more than 33 million citations from the medical and biomedical works of literature. The site – developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) of the US National Library of Medicine – can be used for free by any user.

A simple search can be done even without registration, but the login gives access to advanced tools. Another caveat is the language: although it brings together texts extracted from journals and scientific books from around the world, most of the content is written in English, as is the site. Techidence listed five useful functions for searching PubMed.

1. Create PubMed search alerts


You can create PubMed search alerts for subjects you are studying or interested in. In this way, the site sends reminders of new publications that have been added to the platform, to keep you up to date. However, this feature requires you to be logged in to the site.

The first step in conducting a search is to click on “Create alert”. Next, you must give your alert a name and enter the desired search terms. After that, indicate how often you want to receive alerts, the day of the week the reminders will be sent, the report format, and the maximum amount of content listed. Finally, simply save the alert, which can be canceled or edited at any time.

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2. Highlight search terms in PubMed


PubMed highlights the search term in the results, allowing the user to quickly identify whether the term is in the title, how often it appears in the abstract, and in what context it is embedded. By default, this is done by making keywords bold, but this can be changed in the settings to make the highlighting even more eye-catching.

In the upper right corner of the main screen, click on your username and go to “Dashboard”. Then click on the “NCBI site preferences” link, also located in the top right. On the first topic “Common Preferences”, click on “Highlighting”. Then simply select a color and press the “Save” button.

3. Finding similar articles


PubMed automatically identifies similar articles according to words and text length. The feature provides more material for the general public and helps with bibliographies for those writing academic texts, for example.

To use the feature, simply click on the “Similar articles” link on the article page. You will be directed to the section of the page with links to the main similar texts. At the bottom of the list, click on “See all similar articles” to see the full list of similar articles identified by the platform.

4. Get a permanent link to bookmark or share your research

Another simple and useful tip is to bookmark your research in PubMed so that you have a permanent link to it. This address can be used by you whenever necessary, which avoids performing the same search over and over again. If you don’t want to bookmark it, simply copy and paste the URL into the desired application (Gmail, WhatsApp, etc.) and send it to whomever you want.

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5. Search for systematic reviews


The systematic review is a type of review that uses explicit and reproducible methods to search, critically evaluate, and systematically synthesize content on a subject. To search for this type of article, simply use the “Systematic Review” filter, located in the left bar of the search in the “Article type” section.

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