Imagine you’re looking to find scientific evidence in pubmed journal on whether eating barley is an effective way to reduce one’s cholesterol find that evidence in pubmed journal in the form of scholarly pubmed journals articles on pubmed is a freely available database provided by the u.s national library of medicine that indexes biomedical pubmed journals articles and other scholarly literature pubmed journals articles report on the results of original scientific research or synthesize existing research on a topic searching in a database of scholarly literature like pubmed is a more reliable source of scientific evidence in pubmed journal than using google because the pubmed journals articles indexed there are written by and evaluated by subject matter experts only articles that have met a minimum bar of quality as judged by other experts through a process called peer review are indexed in scholarly databases like pubmed university of guelph-affiliated searchers will have the best experience if they access pubmed through the library by going to the library homepage clicking on the pubmed journals databases icon searching for pubmed and clicking on the pubmed link searching pubmed to develop an effective search query in pubmed follow these steps identify the key concepts in your topic key concepts are ideas that must be discussed in your article in order for the article to be relevant the key concepts i have chosen are barley which is key concept number one and cholesterol which is key concept number two find synonyms for each of your key concepts synonyms are important because the same concept can be described using different terminology the database is for the most part simply matching whatever you type in with whatever appears in the title abstract and other fields that describe the article this information is known as the article’s citation information pubmed does check for spelling errors and automatically searches some alternate spellings pluralizations and variations in terminology however depending on your topic these automatic search enhancements may not be complete enough to give the best results here are the synonyms i came up with for my key concepts for key concept number one barley barley’s and hortium which is part of barley’s scientific name for key concept number two cholesterol cholesterols blood lipid blood lipids lipoprotein and proteins and triglyceride and triglycerides to formulate an effective search query from these synonyms you need to use what are known as boolean operators and search modifiers here are some useful ones and if you join two words with and the database will retrieve sources with both words somewhere in the citation information for that source for example if you search for barley and cholesterol only sources with both of those words will be retrieved or if you join two words with or the database will retrieve sources with either one or the other or both words somewhere in the citation information for example if you search for barley or hortium sources with just barley just hordium and with both barley and hortium will be retrieved the asterisk is a wild card this wild card stands in for between zero to infinite characters if you search for cholesterol asterisk it will retrieve cholesterol cholesterols cholesterolized and any other word that begins with cholesterol phrase searching involves enclosing two or more words in quotation marks when you want to find them as a phrase for example if you search for quote blood lipid close quote and put quotation marks around it you will retrieve only sources with those words in that order with no words in between parentheses control in what order the database will execute your search query anything enclosed in parentheses will be executed first the database will work outwards from there use these operators and modifiers to build your query using the following formula for each key concept join each synonym with or use wildcards and phrase searching as necessary then enclose the key concept in parentheses join each key concept with and for example here is the query i came up with for my topic parentheses barley asterisk or hortium close parentheses and parentheses cholesterol asterisk or quote blood lipid asterisk close quote or lipoprotein asterisk or triglyceride asterisk close parentheses this search query is telling the database to find sources with at least one synonym from key concept number one and at least one synonym from key concept number two next build your search in the pubmed advanced search builder enter your query for the first key concept first type barley asterisk or hortium without parentheses into the first search box click add when you click add your query will disappear from the search box and reappear in the query box below it’s okay that there are no parentheses yet next type your query for your second key concept in the search box as follows cholesterol asterisk or quote blood lipid asterisk close quote or lipoprotein asterisk or triglyceride asterisk notice that the button next to the search box now says and instead of add when you click the and button it will send your query for the second key concept into the query box and join it to your first key concept with and notice that parentheses have been automatically added around each key concept in the query for you once you have added your entire query to the query box click search evaluating your results list results are sorted by best match this means that the most relevant results are at the top are most of your results relevant if not why not circle back and improve your search if necessary by adding or removing synonyms and or key concepts check your search logic for errors remember that even with an effective search not all articles in the results list will be relevant some may only partially address your topic a good way to begin to understand the existing scientific evidence in pubmed journal on your topic is to find a relevant review article review articles synthesize existing literature on a topic so they can be a good way to learn the current scientific understanding of a topic a systematic review and or meta-analysis is an even more rigorous version of a review article a recent systematic review and or meta-analysis is one of the best sources of scientific evidence in pubmed journal possible because it synthesizes all available evidence in pubmed journal on the topic in a transparent and systematic way you can limit your search results to review articles systematic reviews and meta-analyses using the article type filter available in the left sidebar once you’ve found a relevant article you’ll need to read it to read it you’ll need to get the full text of the article pubmed does not include the full text of most articles only the citation information the abstract which is a summary of the content of the article is almost always available and informative sometimes pubmed will provide a link to a free copy of the source if a free full-text copy of an article is available it’s usually because the author has worked with the pubmed journals publisher to make the article open access either via fees paid by the author or by deposit of the manuscript into an open access repository check for a free full-text copy by looking under full-text links for a button labeled free or open access click that button to view the article on the publishers or repositories website.
Look for a pdf button so you can save the full text to your computer if you access pubmed through the university of guelph library you will be able to access the full text of most articles even those that aren’t open access by clicking the get it at guelph button the get it at guelph button will open the record for the article in omni omni is the library’s catalog of all sources to which we have access if we have a copy its location will be noted here most pubmed journals articles are available electronically like this one is scroll down to view online full text availability.
There are often several options click on any of them to be taken to an external webpage for the article on a publisher or repository website.
You may be asked to sign in using your u of g single sign-on credentials before being granted access to the external website.
Look for a pdf button so you can save the full text to your computer getting help if you need help finding articles get in touch with the library.
Use the ask a librarian chat service for quick questions or request a one-on-one research consultation for more in-depth help you.