Skip to Main Content

PubMed (Database Instruction)

This guide will assist you in using PubMed's new interface. PubMed is a free database that contains more than 30 million citations and abstracts of peer-reviewed biomedical literature.

PubMed Filters

There are a number of filters available to help you refine your list - and the filters can be customized to your needs. We will take a closer look at:

Timeline & Publication date (range)

The Timeline widget is a very useful, specialized filter in PubMed. It gives a clear interactive graphic of how many results fall within each year.

  • Click the Expand button (two arrows pointing out) to expand the timeline. The function is the same but I find the expanded graphic is a bit easier to manipulate. (click the collapse button when you are done)

  • Click and drag the round sliders to refine your list to a specific date range. 

  • Click on columns to refine your range to just the selected year. (Hover your mouse over a column to see a count without effecting the results)

  • Click download (down-pointing arrow) to export a count by year.

Click Reset to return the sliders to their original positions.


The Publication Date filter allows you to easily set a relative date range of the last year, last 5 years, or the last 10 years from today's date. 

By clicking Custom Range you can specify a custom range (month & day are optional). 

Text Availablity

PubMed doesn’t generally contain full-text articles, but PubMed Central (PMC) does, as well as MEDLINE. The Text Availability filter allows you to limit your results to whether certain text aspects are available.


  • Abstract means that an abstract or summary of the article is available.
  • Free Full Text means that the article is in PMC or is Open Access and the full text is available to all
  • Full Text means that there IS a link to the full text of the article - however; it may not be FREE. In many cases, this link will lead to the publisher’s website, where there may be a paywall for access. 


**Don’t be discouraged by the lack of full text!  (More about Accessing Full Text)*

Remember that if you check ALL of these boxes then your results must be free full text with abstracts. There is an invisible AND operator between all active filters. 

Customized Filters

Not all available filters are displayed upfront in PubMed. You have the ability to select specialized filters and add them.





  1. At the bottom of the filter sidebar, click the Additional Features button. This will open a pop-up.



















  1. You will see a number of tabs (article type, species, language, etc.) - clicking each one will open a list of filter options. 
  2. To add a filter, click the checkbox (to remove these filters you would UNcheck them). 
  3. Click Show

Note: this doesn’t apply that filter to your results, just adds it as an option on the sidebar. 

In particular, I want to point out Journal > Nursing Journals. This is a great option if you often have to restrict your results to only nursing focused publications. 

My NCBI Filters

One of the advantages to a My NCBI account is the ability to select advanced filters as well as create customized filters for your research. 

Filters are added and created via the My NCBI Account dashboard. 













Once created (and assuming you are logged in) you will be able to activate the filters by clicking on the links on the search results sidebar. 

In this example, of the 43 results, 5 fit in the Qualitative Research/Broad filter.



More about using and creating NCBI filters.