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Research Guides

Database Tutorials



Basic Searching

If you're just looking to browse articles on your topic without much concern for specificity, you may want to use the Basic Search function, which is on the PubMed homepage. When you arrive at PubMed, the homepage will look like this:

PubMed Homepage screenshot


Type in your keyword(s) into the search box at the top of the page. As you start typing, a dropdown menu will appear with suggested terms. You can either click on a term that is relevant, or type out what you'd like to search for in full. 

Hit Enter on your keyboard, or click the blue Search button to the right to see your results.



Advanced Searching

In advanced searching, you are given more ability to pinpoint exactly the kinds of articles you would like to see in your results.

To get to Advanced Searching, click on the link directly below the search box at the top of that page that says "Advanced". This is what the advanced search page looks like:

PubMed Advanced Search screenshot

  • In order to search by author’s nametitlesubject term, etc., use the dropdown menu by the search box to select the appropriate field.
    • If you do not choose an option from this menu, the database will automatically search your term in all the article citation fields (including abstract)
  • To broaden or narrow your search results, use the ‘AND’ dropdown menus before the 2nd text box
    • There will be three options: AND (which is automatically chosen), OR, & NOT
    • AND: will only display results that include both/all the search terms
    • OR: will display all results with either/any of the search terms
    • NOT: will display results with the previous search terms, but will leave out results that include the following search term
  • If you need more than the two provided text boxes for search terms, click the plus button (directly to the right of the search term box, outlined in red above) and use as normal
  • PubMed also tries to be helpful! If you have selected a search option other than "All Fields", once you start typing in the box, a list of suggested terms will appear. You can either click on the one that matches yours, or type in your own.
    • Note: the suggested terms will only be relevant to that particular selection
  • Type your search term in the box, then click "Show Index", to see subject terms. These will be listed alphabetically
    • Note: you CAN click "Show Index" before you've typed anything in, but it will begin at the beginning of the alphabet and you'll have to scroll through pages and pages of numbers before you even get to "a"

Once you're ready to search, click the orange/brown "Search" button below the search terms!



Once you've done a search, your screen will look like this:

PubMed Results screenshot


On the left -

These are your search filters. Select which options you'd like to modify your results.

Helpful ones: Publication Dates, Article Type

To undo a filter, click the little "clear" link next to the category you'd like to clear.

If you don't see a filter you'd like to use

  • Click on "Show Additional Filters" at the bottom of the column. A box will appear that looks like this:
  • PubMed Additional filters screenshot
  • Click the checkboxes next to the options you'd like to see displayed
  • Click "Show"
  • The page will refresh, and your selection will appear on the left side with the others
  • Click on the option within that filter you'd like to use

If you don't see the option you'd like to use within a particular filter (ex: if you want to see newspaper articles, but that isn't an option listed under "Article Types"):

  • Under the filter title, click on "Customize..."
  • Select the options you'd like to use
  • Click "Show"
  • The page will refresh and your selections will appear
  • Then click on the options you'd like to use again - the page will refresh showing only those articles that fit the criteria you just selected.

NOTE: If you run another search, these filters will stay on until you click "Clear" or end your session.


In the center -

These are your articles. There will be a few at the top that PubMed deems most relevant - you can look at these, or they'll be replicated below.

Click on the title of the article to see detailed information including the abstract and where to get full text.

  • Note: PubMed does not hold full text articles - you'll have to use WebBridge to get the articles you're looking for.


On the right - 

Here is more information about your results:

  • Change the display so that most relevant sources are shown first rather than the ones most recently published
  • See how many articles were published per year
  • Take a brief look through some of the images in the articles
  • View titles that have your search terms in them


Searching Tips for Nursing

Finding Nursing Journals Only

  • Narrow to nursing related journals by clicking on Topic-Specific Queries under PubMed Tools:

PubMed homepage screenshot


  • Scroll all the way to the bottom and select “Nursing Journals”:

PubMed select nursing journals screenshot

  • You'll be brought back to the PubMed homepage
  • Select Advanced Search and build a similar keyword search as used in CINAHL and Proquest Nursing.
  • If results include too many non-nursing journals, can narrow to nursing journals in Advanced search by typing in Nurses, Nurse, or Nursing and selecting Journal in the drop down.


Other Searching Tips

  • Asterisks (*) for truncation don’t work in PubMed
  • Go back to the PubMed home page to identify appropriate MeSH headings to use by clicking on MeSH database under More Resources (right of the screen)
    • Select words and add them to a search builder
    • This is also good for identifying other words to use in a keyword search.
  • Take advantage of filters and other search features on the left and right of the screen
  • Narrow date range after you’ve conducted a search and are on the results screen to 5 or 10 years or a custom range.

Getting Full-Text

When looking for full articles in PubMed, always look for the WebBridge button, which looks like this:

WebBridge Link

PubMed itself doesn't hold full-text articles, so there will never be an option to just download a PDF from the database directly. So when in doubt, look for WebBridge and you'll get your article. There are a few other places you can see the full article, but WebBridge is your best bet, and you'll follow similar steps for all of them.


From the Detailed Record

You will only find find the full text of an article from the full item record. From the results page, if you click on the title of the resource you want to look at, there will be a link in the top left of the screen for full text. WebBridge will always be there, but sometimes there will be other links to publisher websites you can also click on (though we don't always have full-text access to these) This is what that screen will look like:

PubMed get full text screenshot

To the right of the page, there is a section heading called "Full Text Links". As you can see in the above example, usually there will be more than just WebBridge as an option. 

Always try WebBridge first - you'll be able to see more options of where to get your article.

If we don't have it through WebBridge, then click on the other links (in this case, Elsevier) and see if you can download the article from there. If you can't find where to get the PDF from that publisher link, ask a librarian and we'll figure it out with you, or we'll help you request an Interlibrary Loan.

Please don't ever pay for articles!! 



Using WebBridge

WebBridge is an application we use here in Geisel Library when articles are not available in full text in the database you searched. This means we either have access to said article in another database, we have it in print in the library, or we don't have access to it at all and you'll have to use Interlibrary Loan to get it.

When you click on the WebBridge link, one of three things will be displayed.

  1. a list of databases where the article can be found in full,
  2. instructions on how to find the print text in the library, or
  3. a link to Interlibrary Loan if we have no access to this article online or in print.
If Geisel Library has the article in full in another database

Your screen will look like this:

WebBridge Other Databases Available Screenshot

To see the full text of this article, simply click on the link to one of the databases shown, and you will automatically be taken to the article in full in that database.

If Geisel Library has the article in print

Your screen will look like this:

WebBridge journal in print screenshot

Click on the "Check here for Location" link provided, and you'll be brought to the library catalog, where you can see where in the building the title you're looking for lives, and what volumes (if it's a journal article) we own. That page will look like this:

Library Catalog record screenshot


You will have to come into the library itself to retrieve these items. If you can't find what you're looking for, feel free to ask someone at the Reference or Periodicals Desk for help. We're happy to assist!

If Geisel Library does not have access at all

Fear not! You can still get said article! Your screen will look like this:

WebBridge InterLibrary Loan screenshot

If this is your screen, simply click on the "Geisel Library Interlibrary Loan (ILL)" link. You will be redirected automatically to a login page for ILL, which will look like this:

ILL Login

Type in your SAC Username (the first half of your email address, before the @), and then your password is your student ID number (including the beginning letter, probably an S). Once you login, WebBridge will fill in all the information you need about the article, so you will be shown a screen that looks like this:

ILL Request screenshotSimply click the "Submit Request" button at the bottom of the screen (you may have to scroll down), and you're all set! You should receive an email from our Interlibrary Loan Office that explains where you can retrieve your article when it is available. If you have any other questions about Interlibrary Loan, feel free to look through our ILL page, or you can contact the ILL Office directly.