‘PubMed’ is an online database which can be freely accessed by the users and will give access to probably the largest medicine related database, the MEDLINE. The ‘PubMed’ is developed and maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine which is part of the National Institute of Health.
The ‘PubMed’, although freely accessible to its users, does not grantee that the users will receive the full text of the articles that they search. This is because, the MEDLINE as well as the other life science journals linked to PubMed will not be subscription free all the time. Thus, the database will only provide the users with citations and abstracts with the full text articles in only certain instances.
Being a database of more than 19 million citations and abstracts, the MEDLINE covers a wide range of journals in the fields of life sciences and bio medical sciences. The MEDLINE database is also a representation of journals from more than 70 other countries apart from United States and the list is still growing.
The PubMed is not only a reference database for MEDLINE but to many other such databases. This has been facilitated by the use of a Global Query Cross-database Search System known as ‘Entrez’ in which the users are able to retrieve information from many databases using a single query. This has made life so easier for the scholars in finding articles as well as citations and reduces the enormous amount of time spent on searching such information.
If you are wondering how PubMed does all these searches with in a second or few milliseconds, it’s a simple form of hierarchical indexing system known as ‘MeSH’. It stands for ‘Medical Subject Heading’ and is the vocabulary of terms used by NLM (National Library of Medicine) to index articles in a simple classification. Due to its hierarchical nature, a user can search a term and expect to find all relevant articles according to a search need. But, due to the vast amount of data within the database, a researcher needs to plan out the intended search before embarking on obtaining the results. Thus following tips are useful in doing a successful PubMed search.
Use truncation in order to broaden your searches Make use of ‘stop words’ as if to say omit those words from a search result Plan out a strategy to search a specific topic and trial the strategy before embarking on a systematic literature survey
The PubMed site can provide the users with comprehensive knowledge on search strategies and how to use the PubMed effectively and thus will be a useful tool for anyone who is interested in gaining further knowledge.