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Physical Therapy - Dallas

Physical therapy research guide for TWU Dallas students, faculty, and staff.


PubMed has more than 34 million records in 30+ languages, encompassing the largest biomedical research and clinical health sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical and bioengineering database in any language. MEDLINE citations are included and updated daily.

When you access PubMed via a search engine, you are only accessing the free component of PubMed (PubMed Central or PMC). When you access PubMed through TWU Libraries, you will access all its components, which include MEDLINE and PubMed. 

How Do I...?

Basic Search

To conduct a basic search, just use the search box provided on the PubMed homepage.

Advanced Search

To do an Advanced Search, click on the "Advanced" link just below the Basic Search box.

Field Searches

The advanced screen (seen below) allows the searcher to build a more tailored search via fields and Boolean operators.

  1. "All fields" means that the PubMed will search for the specified search term throughout the entire record. Select a field name from the drop-down menu to search only in the Author field, Title field, etc.
  2. The search term itself goes into the search box.
  3. To add more search terms, select a Boolean operator (AND/OR/NOT) from the drop-down menu before entering the next search term.
  4. The search string will be built in the query box as you add search terms and fields.
  5. Click on "Search" once your query is ready to run.

Screen grab of Advanced Search in PubMed, showing how to select search fields and build a Boolean search string

Searching specific fields, or narrowing your results to keywords in the Title/Abstract, can give you more specific results, especially if you're getting a lot of results when doing a general search.

Search History

PubMed will automatically keep a history of all your attempted searches and number them. If you find after multiple attempts you got more hits from an earlier set of results, you can review your history, ascertain which search yielded the most citations in the "Results" column , and reuse that search by simply clicking on the hyperlink in the "Results" column for that search.

Screen grab of PubMed search history


  1. Select MeSH (Medical Encyclopedia of Subject Headings) from Explore options in the middle of the landing page, just below the basic search box.

Screen grab of PubMed showing how to find the MeSH Database for controlled vocabulary searches

  1. Type in your search terms, one search term in at a time. Make sure to read the definitions provided, as there are several choices to choose from, and it is important to make sure you make the right selection.

Screen grab of MeSH search for the term retirement

  1. When you click on the link for a term, you'll be able to read through a list of synonyms (1) that are associated with the database's term of choice (subject heading). For example, the subject heading "myocardial infarction" is associated with the synonym "heart attack."
  2. You can also see that, in this case, several subheadings (2) are included that are attached to this term. Click and select any that you wish to be applied to your search.
  3. Click on the "add to search" icon (3) for every search term you need.

Screen grab of subject heading entry for Myocardial Infarction

  1. If you scroll down, you will also see that some search terms feature in a hierarchy or terms or conditions. This can be a good place to look for alternate search terms, or terms that are more specific to your needs.

Screen grab of hierarchical list of related terms to Myocardial Infarction

  1. When you have added all the search terms that you need, your search is fully built. Click on the "Search Pubmed" icon to read through your results. 

Once you have run a search in PubMed, your search results will include a list of limiters on the left hand side of your screen. (Choose the Filters icon on your mobile device to see the list of limiters.)

Screen grab of search results on PubMed showing limiters to the left of the screen

The full range of options within any given filter are not always visible.  In the example above, the filter by "article type" shows six types of articles, but by clicking on "additional filters" toward the bottom of the limiter list, a pop-up window opens with the full list of almost 70 different publication types.

Screen grab of limiter list for PubMed by article type

If you choose to add limiters to your search results page, it is NOT the same as actually applying them to your search results! Once your filters are on full display, you can click on them and choose to select or deselect what limiters you wish to apply.

Note: Only filters which are valid for your search results will appear. For example, if there are no clinical trials within your batch of results, then the filter for clinical trials will not populate.

Similar articles can be found by using the "Similar articles" link on the article detail page. PubMed compares the title and the abstract of the article selected for keywords. It also looks at subject headings and uses this extracted data to find similar articles.

Screen grab of article detail page on PubMed

The "Sorted by" menu has multiple options:

  • Best match: Uses an algorithm to determine what the best results for your needs are and will display them in order. 
  • Most Recent: Date the record was initially added to PubMed.
  • Publication Date: Date of publication.
  • First Author: Primary author's last name.
  • Journal: Title of the publication.

Most Recent and Publication Date can be organized by newest or oldest date; Author and Journal can be sorted A to Z or Z to A.

The "Sorted by" menu also lets you control what you're seeing in your search results; you can choose to see summaries and abstracts, or select PubMed or PMID to get plain text results that can be exported.

Screen grab of options for format and sort by in PubMed

Is there a specific article you want to try and find, but you can't quite remember all of its publication details? Try PubMed's Single Citation Matcher, in the Find list of links just below the search box on its landing page.

Screen grab of PubMed link to Single Citation Matcher

Once you have selected it, you will see a form (pictured below) to fill out with as many details as you can remember.

Screen grab of PubMed single citation matcher form with data entry boxes for journal title, publication date, author and more.

When exporting more than one citation, PubMed will not directly send citations to RefWorks. Instead, it will create a file in your downloads folder which can be uploaded to RefWorks.

In PubMed

Create the export file:

  1. Select the citations you want to export, if you only want to export a select few.
  2. Click on "Send to" and "Citation manager."
  3. Select an option from the drop-down menu: "All results on this page," "All results," or "Selection."
  4. Click on "Create file."

Screen grab of export to RefWorks from PubMed

This creates a file (which by default will save to your computer's Downloads folder). You will now need to upload the saved file to RefWorks.

In RefWorks

  1. Click on the "Add+" icon.
  2. Click on "Import references."
  3. Click on "Select a file from your computer" and find your upload file in your Downloads folder.
  4. Click on "Import" to start loading the citations into RefWorks.
  1. Create a personal account by clicking "Log in" at the top right of the page.
    1. The site will tell you to create an NCBI login with a third party vendor. (PubMed is just one of many resources that NCBI offers.)
    2. Select the option that you prefer and follow the instructions on the screen.
  2. Enter your search.
  3. Click the "Create Alert" icon located under the search box.
  4. Select and click on the search you wish to save.
  5. Click on "Save Searches/Alerts."
    1. On the pop-up screen that appears, you will have the option of naming your search and/or setting it up as an alert.
    2. If you would like the database to alert you via email you every time new articles are produced by the search, select from the options that appear and click "Save."
  6. To access your saved searches in the future, click on your account icon, which has replace the "Log in" button at the upper right, then open your Dashboard from the drop-down menu.
  7.  Use the links under "Saved Searches" to rerun, edit, or delete searches.