Tips for Using Pubmed for Research Purposes
The advance of information technology has made it easy for writers to locate references to articles
in the scientific/medical literature in one's home instead of flipping through thick volume of Index
Medicus in the library. The MEDLINE database, which has over 9 million articles indexed by
subject, is a great place to look and it is now available free of charge at PubMed.

This section provides useful tips for the efficient use of Pubmed.

a. Locating an author's publication(s). 

For this you type the author's surname followed by his initial. For example if you are looking for the
publications of Dr. Anthony Norman Other, you type Other AN in the search box. However, some
authors may forget to put down their second name so that their publications will be under Other A
instead. To cover all the author's publications you may want to use both methods. The problems
arise when the surnames are common and to limit the search to relevant articles, you may type in
the author's name followed by the subject matter. For example if you are interested in the article by
Dr. Michael James Smith on glaucoma; you type Smith MJ Glaucoma in the search box and to
make sure that Dr. Smith has not published his article using only his first name you may want to
type Smith M Glaucoma. Some papers may contain the institution of the authors as a key word.
For example if Dr. Michael James Smith works in St. Elsewhere's Eye Unit, London. To narrow the
search, you may enter Smith M Glaucoma London or Smith M Glaucoma St. Elsewhere.


b. Searching a subject. 
This is usually straight forward. For example, if you are searching for information on
pseudoexfoliation syndrome; you may type pseudoexfoliation syndrome in the box. The useful
aspect of Pubmed is that each article is linked to other relevant papers. So for instance you are
interested in the paper on the laser treatment of pseudoexfoliation syndorme. There is a link next to
these paper which will take you to all other papers related to laser and pseudoexfoliation syndrome.
The problem arises when a condition has more than one medical terms or the authors only enter
the key words related to certain aspects of the study. A good example is dermatochalasis. This
condition may be under upper lid blepharoplasty, upper eyelid surgery, excess eyelid skin in
addition to dermatochalasis. To make sure you get all the relevant papers, it is a good practice to
enter all these terms in turn in the search box. 

c. Narrowing your search. 
To avoid being overwhelmed with information, you may narrow your search by clicking the limits
section under the search box:
  • publication type: you may limit your search to clinical trials, letters, meta-analysis or reviews etc.
  • language section:  you may limit your study published in certain language only.
  • age section: you may choose the age of the study subjects.
  • humans or animals section: you may choose find studies either on humans or animals.
  • publication date: this shows only studies in the period specified.
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