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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Training New PubMed (EN): 1. Searching PubMed

Learning objectives

You can explain why for a focused search in PubMed you need a different search approach than for an everyday search in  .

You can apply the variety of display and sorting options to match your wishes.


Open the homepage of Utrecht University Library and go to the list of search engines. Search by discipline(medicine) and open the database PubMed. Search for the word 'Aids'. You will find a lot of references! 

Have a close look at the first page with results. Do you see references that have nothing to do with the disease Aids? In 'Search the Google way?' (see the adjoining box on the right-hand side), you'll find some examples.

Why are these results included?
(click on the question to view the answer)


Read the text in the adjoining text box 'Output format and sorting of the results'.

Sort your result set by switching between the display options 'Summary' and 'Abstract' and play around with the submenu-options as well.

What are the extras when you choose the display option: 'abstract'?
(click on the question to view the answer)


Read the text in the adjoining text box 'UBUlink: availability of publications'.

Return to the previous page via the back button of your browser. The article is now shown as 'Abstract', Click on    at the top right corner. Check if this article is full text available.

More information about obtaining an article that is not full text available in the library can be found in the text box: 'The library does not have it. What to do now?'

PubMed TV: Find articles on a topic

Tutorial Pubmed Find articles on a topic

Search the Google way?

If you enter search terms in PubMed as you would in Google, you will usually get way too many results, and not all results will be relevant for your search question.

Below you see examples of results shown when you enter the search term 'Aids' in PubMed:

Output format and sorting of the results

PubMed has two standard display options for your results:  ‘Summary’ or  'Abstract'. You can switch between the these options. In both cases, there is a submenu and there is also the option to sort ascending or descending.









By default, PubMed displays ALL results that match your search terms, with the most recent references listed first. PubMed's Best Match re-runs your search using a machine learning algorithm and ranks the references, with the best matches listed first. Be aware that older articles can be on top this way.

Better use the chronological order and set the sort to: 'Most recent'.

Access: UBULINK and Lean Library

Access to PubMed is free, but to be able to use the full text links you must use the PubMed entrance via the university library. Then you will see the UBUlink-klein. This will give you the full text, also in paid journals if in license. You will see the availability of both the online articles and the older volumes that are not yet online and  in depot of our university library. You can request these old volumes directly - if available - and if you are a member of the library. Click on 'Availability via Utrecht University Library ' - 'Exemplaren' and select the correct year. See also: Loan and more.

The WorldCat screen: (Click image to enlarge):

You will be offered even more options via the UBU link menu. Search WorldCat  and order items if needed. Via 'Check Holdings in WorldCat' you can search the digital as well as the paper holdings of the university library. You can also click through to ILL to request it from another library. There are costs associated with the latter option. All information about the UBULINK can be found here.

For easy access to most digital resources there is also the Library Access browser plugin, which often gives access to paid resources without additional login, even outside the UU or UMCU network. See for this: Lean Library.

The library does not have it. What to do now?

  1. Was the UBUlink wrong? Search our WorldCat (by title of the book or print journal) and/or the list of journals (seach by journal title) to be really sure it is not available.
  2. Is a book maybe online available free of charge? Check Google Books. Is a journal article maybe online available free of charge? Check Google Scholar (the links in the right hand column).
  3. Does any other Dutch library hold the publication? Material from other Dutch libraries can be requested through WorldCat by clicking on the title of the item. Under "Availability" then "Libraries Worldwide" you will find the "Interlibrary Request" button. By clicking that you will be directed to a form where you can make your request. This service is not free of charge. More information about borrowing from other libraries you can find at the library website. Borrowing from other Dutch libraries is free for Dutch students: have a library card made and pick up and return the books yourself. Or let somebody you know in that city make photocopies of your book or journal.
  4. Should this publication be in the collection of Utrecht University Library? Submit a purchase suggestion, or contact the subject specialist.
  5. Mail the author: ask the author to send you the article. On publishers' sites and in databases such as Scopus you will often find the email address of the author.
  6. Twitter to the rescue! This may work for articles from journals to which the UU does not subscribe and that are not Open Acess. Send out a tweet with the URL and add the hashtag #icanhazpdf. Chances are good you will get into contact with someone able to legally send you a (PDF ot other) version of the text.
  7. Does a foreign library hold the publication? Check WorldCat. Use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to request material from abroad.
  8. Buy it yourself? Online access to an article can usually be bought via the publisher's site of the journal (use your creditcard); books can be bought in an (online) bookstore.