Skip to Main Content



PubMed is the National Library of Medicine’s free search interface for Medline.

Because the PubMed interface is multi-faceted, a traditional step-by-step linear approach to searching does not take full advantage of what PubMed can do. The key to unlocking PubMed’s searching power is to use multiple tabs, collecting references into the Clipboard as you go. Once you get used to it, this style of searching is fun, and translates well to the way many multidisciplinary databases work.

PubMed offers options for quick scoping searches, and for more complex searches.

Which will work best for my search?

If you are looking to retrieve papers that will inform a clinical question or give you an idea of the shape of research in an area, then choose the quick scoping search outlined in this getting started in PubMed guide.

Should you need to make your search more formal later, time doing a simple search will not be wasted as it will provide the building blocks for a formal strategy.

If you need or prefer to build a formal search strategy, consider the options outlined for more complex searches in the PubMed - Beyond the Basics guide.