Skip to Main Content

H 525: Principles of Epidemiology

What is PubMed?

Before getting started on your literature research, you should know about the tool you are using to do that research. Let's start with the name...PubMed.

image of PubMed logo

PubMed provides free access to the MEDLINE article citation database, but also includes citations to other literature not found in MEDLINE. PubMed / MEDLINE is maintained by the National Library of Medicine. The article citations in MEDLINE span the biomedical and health literature including life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, and bioengineering. MEDLINE is available as a subscription database (you have access as an OSU student) and for free via PubMed (this link has an OSU-specific URL, but click on the logo above for the public version).

Begin Your PubMed Search

Enter keywords or phrases that capture the primary aspects of your topic into the default PubMed search box. Don't use full sentences or punctuation or search operators like AND/OR/NOT.

See the image below or watch this short PubMed Find Articles on a Topic video tutorial.




Look for More Relevant Terms

You can explore the MeSH terms (Medical Subject Headings) assigned to article records and revise your search to better focus on the aspects of your topic you wish to explore. Think of MeSH terms like "tags" that are applied to social media posts. MeSH terms are specific to PubMed and provide a consistent language to describe or label concepts that various authors may describe differently.

The example article record below shows its MeSH terms and highlights several that might be helpful in revising the search to find articles that specifically address failure to vaccinate.

article citation information

medical subject headings terms

Run a More Specific Search

Use the MeSH terms you found to run a more specific search. See the steps/image below or this quick PubMed Advanced Search Builder video tutorial.

  1. Click the Advanced search link under the PubMed search box.
  2. On the Advanced search screen, select the MeSH field from the drop down menu.
  3. Enter the MeSH terms selected and run the search.

Refine Results to Evidence-Based Articles

Search results can be refined to include only those articles that provide some level of evidence that the intervention/program works. PubMed defaults to a limited set of filter options. Use the Additional Filters button at the bottom of the filters to select additional filters/filter options to show on the results page.

Filters are selected one at a time. Remember to Reset Filters (button at bottom of filter column) or Clear All option (at top of search results column) before doing the next search. PubMed filters are "sticky" as they do not automatically reset between searches.

filtered search results