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Welcome to the PubMed research guide.

PubMed Step by Step


Step by Step



1. Access PubMed

Sign in to MyNCBI to optimize access to full text of subscribed articles from SWU.


PubMed with SWU full text

2. Identify the main concepts in your research question to conduct a simple keyword search

  • Research Question:
    Does handwashing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infection?

Connect two or three main concepts with AND:



hospital acquired infection

(Connect terms with AND
to retrieve articles with both terms included)

3. View results. Revise Search:

  • Expand with OR, to connect synonyms nested in parentheses for one or more of your terms.
  • Re-execute your search with expanded search terms.
  • Narrow large results by adding additional terms with AND

View results and notice how the most relevant citations are described with MeSH terms.   (Medical Subject Headings).

Re-do your search with OR'd terms in parentheses.  A broader search:

(handwashing OR hand hygiene)

(cross infection OR hospital acquired infection)

4. Filtering Results

On left menu, display options to filter search results by Article type, Age, Date, Language, etc.

Your search results will be limited to those criteria.



5. Accessing Full Text

  • The abstract view of a PubMed citation will display the Library Holdings icon. Click icon for full text options of SWU-subscribed journals.
PubMed Library holdings

6. Saving Results

As you scroll through results, mark checkbox to the left of citations you wish to save.

  • Choose Send to, then select a destination: the Clipboard, File, Email, etc.
  • Clipboard items are saved until you end the search session. Permanently save or export your results before you end the search session.
  • More about saving/managing search results here.

7. Document Your Search Strategy
  • Saving a strategy keeps a record of what you have searched. Rerun later for updates.
  • On search results page, choose Send to for saving or email options.

  • Set up a MY NCBI account to save searches, collections, set up alerts, filters, more.
8. Revising Results
  • Review Limits, Step 4, above.
  • Too many results? Narrow Down
  • Too few results? Expand

9. Get Help