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PubMed (EN): Get going



Beware! There is a libguide for the new interface of PubMed, this libguide is no longer updated. Please click HERE for the new libguide.

What is PubMed?

The search engine PubMed contains over 29 million biomedical references from the MEDLINE database. In one go, you can search over 5600 life science journals from 80 countries as well as online books. Coverage runs from 1946 onwards. PubMed is updated on a daily basis.

PubMed is produced and updated daily by the  U.S. National Library of Medicine

Use PubMed for?

PubMed is used to find biomedical articles. PubMed only searches a few Dutch journals.

To find additional European biomedical literature Embase is the preferred source. See ‘Finding more biomedical references’ in this LibGuide.

Reader's guide

  • Get going: the most relevant tips
  • Find out more: theory, special cases and remarkable facts
  • Info elsewhere: links to related LibGuides, useful websites and news
  • Train yourself: extensive PubMed training
  • Feedback and contact: for if you have any questions or suggestions

What is the most convenient way to access PubMed?

Access to PubMed is free, but to make the most of the links to the full text articles you need to access PubMed via the Utrecht University Library website. If you do so, you will find the ubulink next to each reference. This will bring you directly to the full text, if available. Older volumes which are not online yet and are housed in the depots of the University Library may be requested via WorldCat. For this you need a library card. Click in the UBU-LINK menu on 'Availability via Utrecht University Library' - 'Items' and select the correct year. See also: Loan and more.

You will be offered even more options via the UBULINK-menu. Search in Worldcat and if necessary, you can order items. There are costs associated with this last option. All information on the UBULINK can be found here.

The WorldCat -screen: (click image to enlarge):

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: Library Access.

PubMed offers

PubMed offers:

  • Extensive search filters, for instance for clinical questions (Clinical Queries)
  • Simple filters to limit the number of search results
  • Links to other citations or information, such as links to related articles
  • Single Citation Matcher
  • The possibility to save sets with articles and have searches automatically updated

What is MesH?

  MeSH is the controlled list of keywords in PubMed.
  MeSH is short for Medical Subject Heading.
  Keywords are connected in a hierarchic structure. 
  This thesaurus helps you to specify your search in PubMed.
  All MeSH categories

Effective use of PubMed

  • A special training module for the biomedical disciplines is included under the tab Train yourself in this LibGuide
  • For an efficient search in PubMed you need to be well prepared. If you start searching haphazardly you often get too many hits which will  bear hardly or no relevance to your question. We have a special LibGuide Search Strategy   LibGuide Zoekstrategie (in Dutch) (in Dutch!) which you could study in advance. Especially in the case of extensive searches the first blow is half the battle!


  • Default combination of search terms: AND
  • Default order of results: chronological
  • In Advanced Search: autofill options: directly to the right author, journal etc.
  • Shortening the search term to the word stem with an asterisk (*)
  • List with approximately 5600 titles
  • Decision rounds about including new titles: three times a year

Search on both MeSH and [tiab]

The right search combines:

Keywords [MeSH]: by which you also find references without abstracts (depending on the subject the number can run up to ca. 50 percent)


Title/Abstract [tiab]: by which you also find the most recent references to which keywords have not been added yet.