If you have met your research requirement or are in the process, you know PubMed® well. It is the primary international database for medical articles and key to your research project’s literature review.

PubMed is published in the USA by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and is composed of three main parts:

  • MEDLINE®: the searchable index of journal citations and abstracts for biomedical literature from around the world.
  • PubMed Central: the free full-text database of MEDLINE articles which are available to the public.
  • Bookshelf: a database of freely available books and chapters on biomedical literature that support research in biomedical learning.

Now is an especially good time to take a look at PubMed because it has recently gone through a facelift and change in user experience. The previous format will be phased out by 31 October 2020. Resources and the three main parts noted above have not changed.

“The main landing page of PubMed is now quite straightforward, ‘Google’ style with a search bar,” says Else Talbot, OUM’s eLibrarian. “Simply type in words that you are interested in learning more about and press enter. Once your search has run, you are brought to a results page sorted by ‘best match.’ You can change the sort order, for example, by having ‘most recent’ be first on your list.”

On the left-hand side of the results page you can narrow your search with filters such as date published, full text availability, and article type (like systematic reviews), explains Talbot, and each record has publication information and an abstract. Articles that are available free of charge are indicated as “Free Article” or “Free PMC Article.” If you click on titles, web-accessible PDF’s will come up, which may require payment, she says.

“If you want to get more specific you can click on ‘Advanced’ from the main page and build a more sophisticated search using MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). You can also use the ‘Advanced’ feature to search for authors within specific journals, limit by date, or search an article by its title, if you know it,” says Talbot. She also reminds students that she and Katie Sullivan Phan are always available to assist you in focusing and setting up search filters or providing other research information.

If you are just beginning research, the Bookshelf resource provides topic overviews, which you find using the “Books and Documents” filter on the results page.

Remember, OUM students also have access to Elsevier’s ClinicalKey and ClinicalKey Student, where your recommended textbooks are located. These databases also include Elsevier journal articles from the last five years.

For all these database resources, if you create your own PubMed login you will have access to extra features, such as saving searches and articles that you found especially helpful and keeping track of your work and projects.

Again, Else Talbot ( and Katie Sullivan Phan (, OUM’s Library Staff, are always available to assist you in securing the information you need.

(October 2020)