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Searching PubMed: Basic Searches

Created by Health Science Librarians

Topic Search

Finding a few good good articles on a particular topic can be very easy.

State your question as specifically as possible:

  • Is acupuncture effective for the treatment of migraine headaches?

Identify the key words in your question:

  • acupuncture
  • migraine

Type the key words into the search box:

  • acupuncture AND migraine

PubMed searches for the keywords in the article title, abstract and subject headings. It does not search the full text of the article.

Results show up with the most relevant articles, as predicted by PubMed, first in summary format. Click on the title for more information about a single article, change your search by adding, editing, or deleting terms in the search box, or change the Display Settings to view the most recent articles first. 

                      PubMed results page after performing a search


Go to a PubMed search for: acupuncture AND migraine

Author Name Search

Enter the author's name in the following format: Author's Last Name Initials. Example: Corbie-Smith G

An author search for Corbie-Smith G in PubMed


  • No periods or commas are necessary.
  • Adding the second initial can help focus the search on a particular person, but may cause you to miss articles published by the author that do not include the middle name.
  • Searching by the authors full first name will work sometimes but not always, so it's better to use their initial(s). 

Go to this author search in PubMed: Corbie-Smith G
Notice that the last (oldest) article retrieved was published in May 1997.

Advanced Search

To run a more advanced search in PubMed or see your search history, select Advanced below the search box.

The Advanced Search link is located under the PubMed search box

On the PubMed Advanced Search page:

  1. You can add specific search terms using the Add Terms to Query Box option.
  2. To limit your search to articles published in one journal, select Journal from the drop-down box.
  3. Start typing the journal name in the Search box.
  4. Select the correct full journal name from the auto-complete list.
  5. With the correct full journal name inserted in the top search box, click Add and the journal will be added to your search. You can then click the search button or then add more terms to your search.
  6. To limit your search to English, select Language from the drop-down box, type "English", then click add.
  7. You can also see your Search History of the recent searches you've run, see the Details of how PubMed interpreted your search terms and Add your previous search back to the Search Design box to be edited or added to. 

Go to the PubMed Advanced Search page.

Single Citation Matcher

To find a specific article when you know some of the publication information such as journal name, publication date, page numbers, author name, or title words, use the Single Citation Matcher form.

The link to Single Citation Matcher is on the PubMed homepage. It is the third item in the second-left section labeled Find, below the search box.

The PubMed Single Citation Matcher link

You only need to fill in a few data points.
Author Name and First Page often bring up a single result.

The PubMed Single Citation Matcher form

Go to the PubMed Single Citation Matcher