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Biological Sciences: 03-344: Experimental Biochemistry: PubMed Tutorial

This guide provides links, tutorials, and tips for finding and accessing scholarly research in biology.

Do a Simple Search in PubMed

PubMed is the National Library of Medicine's public service for searching the MEDLINE database and other biology literature. It is one of the most up to date, comprehensive, and powerful ways for finding life science and biomedical scholarly literature.

To start, go to PubMed and try doing a simple search for "development visual cortical neurons" as shown below.


This search will lead you to a page that looks like this.


Things to note from this example: 

  • PubMed will default to sorting articles by Best Match, meaning the articles that their algorithm thinks will be the most relevant to you based on your search entry. You can click on the Display Options dropdown menu to choose Publication Date to bring the most recent articles to the top.
  • You can tell if an article is a review by looking for the Review label near the title.
  • Search phrases can just include the key words. You don't need to use words like "in" or "of" or "the." Search terms should be simple but specific.
  • If you find a good article, put the author's name in the search bar to see what other articles they have published.


To find similar articles, click on the title and then Similar Articles in the right hand column.


Short Interactive PubMed Tutorial

Try a 1 minute interactive tutorial on doing basic searches in PubMed.

Learn how to find a specific article in PubMed with this 1 minute interactive tutorial.

Use PubMed Filters to Narrow Your Search

Use Filters the left-hand column of PubMed to narrow a search by characteristics like article type or publication year.  Scroll down in PubMed to find more advanced filters.


Locating the Full-Text of an Article

A lot of articles from recent years are publicly available on PubMed. If the article is publicly available, it will say Free PMC Article underneath the title. If the article is not publicly available, you will probably still be able to access it through CMU's journal subscriptions. Simply click on the title of the article and look for the full text links on the right side of the screen. 

Note: If you are off campus, you will need to login to the VPN to access full-text and PDFs for non-publicly available articles. Follow the instructions here. Email if you are still having issues accessing articles.