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Literature Searching

PubMed Subject Search: How It Works

How To Do An Advanced Search in PubMed

To run a more advanced search in PubMed or to see your search history, select Advanced below the search box.

You can add specific search terms using the Add Terms to Query Box option.  Or use the drop-down menu to search a specific field:

Proximity Searching in PubMed

PubMed recently added the option to do a proximity search in PubMed.  Users can now search for multiple terms appearing in any order within a specified distance of one another in the [Title] or [Title/Abstract] fields.

How to Build a Proximity Search in PubMed:

To create a proximity search in PubMed, enter terms using the following format:

"search terms"[field:~N]

  • Search terms = Two or more words enclosed in double quotes.
  • Field = The search field tag for the [Title] or [Title/Abstract] fields.
  • N = The maximum number of words that may appear between your search terms.

For example, to search PubMed for citations where the terms "hip" and "pain" appear with no more than two words between them in the Title/Abstract search field, try the search:

"hip pain"[Title/Abstract:~2]

Search results may include hip pain, hip-related pain, hip joint pain, hip/groin pain, hip biomechanics and pain, pain after total hip arthroplasty, pain in right hip, and more.

See the PubMed User Guide and view the proximity searching tutorial for more examples and information about proximity searching in PubMed.

screenshot of PubMed search page for hip pain.

For further information, see the NLM Tech Bulletin or view the PubMed Proximity Searching Tutorial.

Search History

The Search History lists all the searches you have executed in a PubMed session.

Each line is assigned a number. You can see the search term, the sorting method and the number of results found for that individual line.

There are some commands which can be used for your Search History, under the Actions section:

The Actions are:

  • Add query - Sends the search term(s) from this line up to the "Query" box in the Search Builder section.
  • Delete - Deletes this line from your search history.
  • Create Alert- Using your My NCBI account.

Have Questions? Need Assistance?

A Librarian can conduct a one-on-one session with you on how to use the PubMed database. Feel free to call us at (248) 370-3772 or email if you have questions or need assistance with searching.