Skip to Main Content



What is PubMed?

Blue square with logo in white over image of an open journal

PubMed is a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature with the aim of improving health–both globally and personally.

The PubMed database contains more than 33 million citations and abstracts of biomedical literature. It does not include full text journal articles. However, links to the full text are often present when available from other sources, such as your University Library



How to Access PubMed

How to Access PubMed

As mentioned on the previous page, the only way to gain full-text access to the articles in PubMed is to be attached to a subscriber, like your library. In order to use the library's paid subscriptions, you need to access PubMed via the Library website

Select PubMed from the A-Z Databases List, under the Research Tab.  If you're off campus, you'll be prompted to enter your Lynchburg credentials. 

Gif of scrolling google search results

How to Search PubMed

How to Search PubMed

Watch the tutorial below for a demonstration on creating a basic topic search in PubMed.

Take a look at the captions in the image below to understand the components of a PubMed citation entry. 

What are MeSH terms? 

MeSH stands for Medical Subject Headings. These are the standard terms added by indexers to the article  record to help improve search results.

National Library of Medicine indexers examine articles and assign the most specific MeSH headings that describe the concepts discussed.

The indexer assigns as many MeSH headings as appropriate to cover the topics of the article (generally 5 to 15). When there is no specific heading for a concept, the indexer will use the closest, general heading available.

Indexers can also assign Subheadings to further describe a particular aspect of a MeSH concept. Examples of Subheadings in this list are: therapeutic use, physiology, surgery, drug therapy.

Why are they important?

Because they are a controlled vocabulary used by the National Library of Medicine, using them can expand your search results and help connect you to all of the articles on your subject. You can search for your topic in the MeSH database to find the MeSH terms that represent your subject. 

How to Set Search Alerts

Setting Search Alerts

When you're working on a long-term research project, it may be beneficial to save your searches and set up email search alerts. This will help you stay on top of the latest research on your topic.