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New PubMed Tricks

Lynne M. Fox
University of Colorado Health Sciences Library
Aurora, Colorado

Image of additional filters choices.PubMed has added some great features in the past year. PubMed’s three column layout now provides space for filters and useful sidebars, along with your results.

Probably the most helpful of the changes is the substitution of Filters in the left hand sidebar replacing the old Limits page. Point and click access allows users to quickly select from a wide variety of filters to focus your search results. PubMed users can select from ten different categories, each offering multiple choices.

A great new feature highlights titles that include your search terms. For example, the search health belief model and weight management retrieves 45 results but a helpful highlight box at the top draws your attention to 2 citations that title match your terms:

Image of results

Another search might present this information as a sidebar on the right hand side of the screen.

View of reults sidebar

A highlight feature provides a link to gene names. Search a keyword, like ipad, and PubMed directs you to seven articles, information in the Gene Database, and several variations for this gene name:

results highlighted

chart showing results by yearSearch a single topic, such as google, and a chart of results by year will display in the right hand sidebar to provide visual illustration of research activity on the topic. Click on one of the bars in the chart to view all the results from that year. In the illustration I’ve clicked on the bar for 2001, the first time google was mentioned in a PubMed record.

related searchesAnother helpful sidebar scans prior searches in PubMed and presents the most frequent topics searched that are similar to your topic in a “Related searches” sidebar.

Several new features draw your attention to content in PMC (PubMed Central). PMC is PubMed’s companion open access repository for full text content. PubMed sidebars link to images in articles on your topic, or to the subset of results that are available in PMC. Although many academic libraries have subscribed access to a wide variety of journals, many PubMed users do not have this access, and find access to the growing amount of free PMC content valuable. The search for google retrieves over 500 images and over 600 free full text articles.

Images results Results with full free text

Searching for authors with common last name-initial combinations can be frustrating. But PubMed now offers a “Computed Author” feature to help better locate articles that belong to the same author. For example, searching for Anschutz Medical Campus author, Larry Hunter, can be challenging because the PubMed search for Hunter’s articles, (hunter l[au]), retrieves dozens of articles by several different authors. Limiting to a specific topic (hunter l[au] and pubmed) helps zero in on specific articles, but leaves out lots of his other work.

Now searchers can find one of Hunter’s articles, click the hyperlinked title to view the abstract, then click on “Hunter LE” or “Hunter L” in the author list. PubMed will run an algorithm to retrieve Hunter’s articles. The algorithm finds his articles based on the typical topics researched, common collaborators, and journals.Image showing choosing author for computed author search

Clicking on the author’s hyperlinked name launches the algorithm, resulting in a better focused list of results. Each article has its own set of results based on the characteristics of the “parent” article.

Results sorted by comupted author

While these features might not be useful every time you search, they are useful during different search tasks. Their efficiency may save you time and effort when searching.


The content in this article is based on an NN/LM MCR presentation “Spotlight! on NLM Resources – What’s New in PubMed?” presented by Rachel Vukas. Recording available at:

Originally published on the University of Colorado Health Sciences Library Blog

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