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Searching in PubMed: Advanced Search

A guide for using PubMed, the world's largest database for biomedical and health sciences literature.

Advanced Search Builder

The Advanced Search Builder allows you to specify where you would like your search terms to appear by searching within specific fields, such as author, title/abstract, journal and many more. 

From the Advanced Search page, you can access your search history and search term details. The Advanced Search Builder also allows you to combine previous searches, and test out search terms by providing result numbers. 

Access the Advanced Search Builder from the Advanced link under the search bar on the homepage or the results page. 

To use the Advanced Search Builder: 

  • Specify the field you would like to search, enter your search terms and click Add to move your search into the Query Box.
  • Repeat to add additional search terms; change AND to OR or NOT as needed. 
  • When you have  finished adding your search terms, select Search, to search PubMed, or Add to History to save your search for the research session.

To run a previous search again, modify a previous search, or combine searches:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the Advanced Search page to the History and Search Details section. 
  • Click on the ... options in the Action Column to add the search to the Query Box.
  • Subsequent selections will provide you with AND and OR options for adding additional past searches. Add new search terms if desired.
  • History and Search Details are saved for a single research session; select Save to My NCBI to save a search for future use.
  • The Download option exports your search history to a CSV file. 

Clinical Querries

The Clinical Queries search tool provides access to resources related to clinical research areas and can be used locate targeted information such as etiology, diagnosis or treatment for a particular disease or condition.

Access Clinical queries from the PubMed homepage under the Find menu.  

Enter your search terms and click Search.

Clinical Queries search results are organized into 3 categories: Clinical Study Categories, Systematic Reviews, and Medical Genetics. The first 5 retrieved citations are displayed, with the option to view all results.

The Clinical Study Categories section includes filters to refine results by category and scope.


  • Etiology
  • Diagnosis
  • Therapy (default category)
  • Prognosis
  • Clinical prediction guides


  • Broad:  a more comprehensive search that includes relevant citations 
  • Narrow: a more precise search of relevant citations 

The Medical Genetics section includes additional topics that can be used to further refine results. 

Searching with MeSH: Medical Subject Headings

MeSH are standardized terms that describe the main concepts of PubMed/MedLine articles. Searching with MeSH can increase the precision of your search by providing a consistent way to retrieve articles that may use different terminology or spelling variations. 

Note: new articles will not have MeSH terms; the indexing process may take up to a few weeks for newly ingested articles. 

Use the MeSH database to locate and build a search using MeSH.

  Access the Mesh Database from the PubMed homepage under the Explore menu.

To search the MeSH database:

  • Search for 1 concept at a time.
  • If you do not see a relevant MeSH in the results, search again with a synonym or related term.
  • Click on the MeSH term to view to the complete record​, subheadings, broader and narrower terms. 

Build a search from the results list or from the MeSH term record to specify subheadings.

  • Select the box next to the MeSH term or subheadings that you wish to search and click Add to Search Builder.
  • ​You may need to switch AND to OR, depending on how you would like to combine terms.
  • Repeat the above steps to add additional MeSH terms. When your search is ready, click Search PubMed.

Citation Search

PubMed provides a few different pathways for locating a known article: 

  • Enter the article title into the search box and search.
  • Search for the citation elements you have (such as author, title words, journal, volume, year, etc.) and let PubMed’s citation sensor find the article for you (e.g. Hratchian Chemical Theory and Computation 2020).

 You can also use the Single Citation Matcher, from the PubMed homepage.