Applying MeSH in Pubmed:
- Utilize Medical Subject Headings (Mesh)
- Access PubMed
- Click on “Pubmed”
- Towards the bottom right, under “More Resources” click on MESH”
- Input a keyword to find the medical synonym for that term i.e. if you type in “low blood sugar” the mesh term will be “hypoglycemia”
- Now, on the right there is a search builder box
- Click on “add to search builder” to add your MeSH term
- Begin to build a search in the box by searching your next keyword i.e. home blood glucose monitoring whereas the MeSH term for this is “Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring” but before adding the latter term to your search builder box.
- Make sure you have the correct Boolean term (AND, OR, NOT). See below for further explanation.
- Click on “Search PubMed”
- On the left you can filter your results by article type. By choosing “customize.” Then check off, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and randomized clinical trials.
- Once done, actually click on the type of article you want to see in your results. Only when there is a check next to the specific article type will the results be filtered.
- Additional filters can be added by date, age, gender so forth. Using the same method applied in step #11 and #12 above.
- Another helpful feature is located right above your results, choose“format” then choose “abstract.” This allows you to read abstracts without having to be directed to another page.
- In addition, under each article there is a “+” symbol
- Click on this “+” symbol to expand MeSH terms used to index an article that is close to your topic. This allows you to utilize new MeSH terms to create a new search for different but perhaps more precise results.
What is MeSH?
MeSH (medical subject headings), are indexing terms are used by the National Library of Medicine, including PubMed / Medline, to organize and make retrieval of citations easier. MeSH enhance searches by making it easier to attain consistent results when searching for articles in a given topic area. MeSH is the NLM’s Controlled Vocabulary.
How to ‘translate’ your search terms to their MeSH equivalents:
Starting on the PubMed homepage, switch to the MeSH database by selecting it from the pull-down menu near the search box.
Type a search word in the search box, then click Search.You will be taken to a page with search results. These are MeSH terms.
Click on the search result most applicable to your topic. You will be brought to a page listing relevant MeSH terms, including the main subject heading and related subheadings (more specific concepts related to that MeSH term).To the right is a search box. This is the PubMed Search Builder.Choose a MeSH term or one of the subheadings, then click Add to Search Builder to start creating a search query.
When done ‘translating’ all of your search terms into MeSH and adding them to the search builder, click the Search PubMed button to run the search. You will then be brought to a regular PubMed search results page.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Just MeSH:
New articles, including ‘pre-prints’, are often available to view on PubMed for months before bring indexed. This means they may not show up in a search built solely with MeSH terms. If you are searching for very recent articles, or are doing a thorough literature review on a topic, you should combine both MeSH and regular ‘keyword’ search terms together in your search query. You can add regular keywords to the Search Builder after choosing MeSH terms before running a search.
NOTE: When you are running a regular (non-MeSH) search on PubMed, your search words are automatically ‘translated’ by the search engine into their MeSH equivalents (when those are available) as well, and these are added to your search query alongside the search words you already used.
What are Boolean Operators?
Use AND in a search to:
- narrow your results
- tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
- example: cloning AND humans AND ethics
Use OR in a search to:
- connect two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
- broaden your results, telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records
- example: cloning OR genetics OR reproduction
Use NOT in a search to:
- exclude words from your search
- narrow your search, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
- example: cloning NOT sheep