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PubMed

Category: Website

PubMed is a free online web based database, which provides a linking mechanism to journals, periodicals and other research in the medical scientific community.  The site provides an abstract of the papers that can be used to determine the content of each paper, as well as a search facility based on keywords on medical topics. 

A PMID (PubMed identifier or PubMed unique identifier) is a unique number assigned to each PubMed record.  [The assignment of a PMID or PMCID to a publication, however, tells the reader nothing about the type or quality of the content].

 

The site and its underlying database is maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health as part of the Entrez information retrieval system. The papers it links to, however, are worldwide, not just those published in the USA.  There are a considerable number of translated papers from countries such as China and Japan as well as numerous papers from Russia and the old eastern bloc countries.

PubMed was first released in January 1996.

As of 31 October 2012 (2012 -10-31), PubMed had over 22.2 million records going back to 1966, selectively to the year 1865, and very selectively to 1809; about 500,000 new records are added each year; 13.03 million of these articles are listed with their abstracts, and 14.13 million articles have links to full-text (of which 3.81 million articles are available full-text for free for any user). To see the current size of the database type "1800:2100[dp]" or "all[sb]" into the PubMed search window.

 

The search facility is more sophisticated than the average search engine and to get the best from PubMed it helps to understand  the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) controlled vocabulary used to index MEDLINE articles. PubMed translates the initial search formulation and automatically adds field names, relevant MeSH terms, synonyms, Boolean operators, and ‘nests’ the resulting terms appropriately, enhancing the search formulation significantly, in particular by routinely combining (using the OR operator) textwords and MeSH terms.  For example

Heart Attack Aspirin Prevention is translated as ("myocardial infarction"[MeSH Terms] OR ("myocardial"[All Fields] AND "infarction"[All Fields]) OR "myocardial infarction"[All Fields] OR ("heart"[All Fields] AND "attack"[All Fields]) OR "heart attack"[All Fields]) AND ("aspirin"[MeSH Terms] OR "aspirin"[All Fields]) AND ("prevention and control"[Subheading] OR ("prevention"[All Fields] AND "control"[All Fields]) OR "prevention and control"[All Fields] OR "prevention"[All Fields])

NLM have also provided a host of useful tools for Pubmed, for example,

  • PubMed/MEDLINE can be accessed via handheld devices, using for instance the "PICO" option A "PubMed Mobile" option, providing access to a mobile friendly, simplified PubMed version, is also available.
  • There is a facility called askMEDLINE, a free-text, natural language query tool
  • On accessing an article one can also view "related articles". The related articles are listed in order of "relatedness". To create these lists of related articles, PubMed compares words from the title and abstract of each citation, as well as the MeSH headings assigned, using a ‘powerful word-weighted algorithm’.

 

 

 

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