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Online Resources: PubMed

Learn about the library's online resources: what types of sources they contain, search strategies, and unique features.

About PubMed


PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.  Articles cited in PubMed may be available in EBSCOhost and/or Gale, the library's periodical databases.  The library can also request materials found in PubMed via Interlibrary Loan.

Accessing PubMed

Do I have to log in?

Access to PubMed is freely available on the web. It is part of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Searching in PubMed

PubMed has a number of different search features.  To get started with a basic search:

  • Identify the key concepts for your search.  For example, if your question is "what role does pain have in sleep disorders," the key concepts would be "pain" and "sleep disorders."
  • Enter the terms (or key concepts) in the search box.
  • Click Search.


The Results List

PubMed is a powerful search tool.  However, many of the articles are not available in full text directly from PubMed.  The ones that are available are clearly marked as either "Free Article" or "Free PMC Article." (See examples below--links to the full text are available from the individual article pages.) 

There are several options for getting the full text of an article you find in PubMed:

  • Use article title to search in EBSCO and Gale. Be sure to select "full-text" limiter.
  • If article is not available as full-text item in EBSCO or Gale, search Google Scholar.
  • Send citation information to the library using the Book and Article Request Form. Include authors, date of publication, title of article, journal title, journal volume and issue numbers, and page range. Library will attempt to locate and request the article through Interlibrary Loan.

This helpful video explains how to use PubMed's filters to limit and refine your search. 

**The video uses an older version of the PubMed interface, but the filter function works the same way.**

Medical Subject Headings - MeSH

What is a controlled vocabulary? A controlled vocabulary is a set of selected words or phrases that are used to aid in the search of organization, and therefore the ability to search and retrieve information. Synonyms and words that could be spelled different ways are often redirected to the 'authorized' term, assuring that search results are accurate. Controlled vocabularies are often hierarchical in structure. Meaning the authorized word can often be linked to broader or narrower search terms. Basically using a controlled vocabulary helps you to be precise in your search. Example.....

What is MeSH? MeSH is the controlled vocabulary thesaurus of the NLM (the National Library of Medicine). The NLM uses MeSH to index the articles found in the MEDLINE and PubMed databases. It is also used in the descriptions of items cataloged by the NLM such as books, documents, and images. Since the NLM covers all areas or medical and health care using MeSH terms in your search can be very helpful.

Watch the video below about using MeSH to improve your searching in PubMed.

Contact the Library

The Library is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday,  & Friday from 10AM - 5PM and Wednesday from 1PM - 8PM.

If you need help from the librarian or need to access the library resources outside of those hours let us know!

Call or text 717-728-2500 or email to make an appointment.

Remember the Learning Hub is also open with lots of great faculty and staff willing to help with tutoring, advising, and general questions.

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