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How to Search in Biomedical Databases

Tutorials for Library Databases and Resources

Sample Search Step #5: Repeat the Same Steps for the Concepts "Memory Loss" and "Females"

  • Recap: Following the completion of searching for the first concept (Atorvastatin), it is necessary to build additional searches for memory loss and females. Again, you can start a new search for each of these concepts within PubMed without losing your initial search for Atorvastatin; this search is saved in your history for 12 hours. In the section directly after this one ("Search Step #6: Combining Search Elements Using AND"), we will learn how to combine all three concepts, but for now, let's build search strings for the second and third PICO elements. 

  • If you happen to be in PubMed because of the previous search on Atorvastatin, then you will need to return to the MeSH database. This can be done by returning to the PubMed landing page. Here's a recap of how to reach the MeSH database from the landing page: To access this database from the NEOMED version of PubMed home screen, select the following link pictured below (labeled "MeSH Database"). Note that it is important to start from NEOMED's custom homepage so that you can access full-text results.

Screenshot showing how to reach MeSH database from new the PubMed landing page

Quick run-through for building a search string for memory loss using keywords and subject headings

*note that the following instructions are not nearly as comprehensive as the instructions in steps 2-3 for Atorvastatin. If you need more guidance, please return to steps to 2 and 3 and simply replace the MeSH term Atorvastatin with "memory disorders"

  • Find the MeSH term for memory loss (it's entered under "Memory Disorders") by searching in the MeSH database. Click "Add to search builder" add the term to the PubMed Search Builder
MeSH entry for Memory Disorders
  • Look at the entry terms within the MeSH entry and enter all that seem relevant in the search box with the [tiab] field tag and separate them using the OR Boolean operator
Screen-capture of Memory Disorder search builder with all keyword synonyms entered
  • The following search string is the exact same as what is captured in the screen-capture above. Note the field tags after each keyword and the quotes around each term with more than one word:

"​Memory Disorders"[Mesh] OR "Memory Loss"[tiab] OR "Memory Disorder"[tiab] OR "Memory Disorders"[tiab] OR "Cognitive Retention Disorder"[tiab] OR "Cognitive Retention Disorders"[tiab] OR "Semantic Memory Disorder"[tiab] OR "Age Related Memory Disorder"[tiab] OR "Age Related Memory Disorders"[tiab] OR "Memory Deficit"[tiabOR "Memory Deficits"[tiab]

  • Once the MeSH term and the keywords (and synonyms) have all been entered and properly separated with OR Boolean operators, click on the button labeled "Search PubMed."
  • Upon clicking "Search PubMed," a list of results should come up, as can be seen in this screen-capture: 
Screen-capture showing result list for Memory Disorder keyword and MeSH term combination

Quick run-through for building a search string for females using keywords and subject headings*

*note that the following instructions are not nearly as comprehensive as the instructions in steps 2-3 for Atorvastatin. If you need more guidance, please return to steps to 2 and 3 and simply replace the MeSH term Atorvastatin with "women"

  • Find the MeSH term for the patient population females (it's entered under "Female"). Click "Add to search builder" add the term to the PubMed Search Builder
Screen-capture showing the MeSH entry page for Female
  • Look at the entry terms within the MeSH entry and enter all that seem relevant in the search box with the [tiab] field tag and separate them using the OR Boolean operator
Screen-capture showing the combined MeSH, keywords, and synonyms for female
  • The following search string is the exact same as what is captured in the screen-capture above. Note the field tags after each keyword and the truncation used for the term that can be plural:

"​Female"[Mesh] OR Female*[tiab] OR Women[tiab] OR Woman[tiab]

  • Once the MeSH term and the keywords (and synonyms) have all been entered and properly separated with OR Boolean operators, click on the button labeled "Search PubMed"

  • Upon clicking "Search PubMed," a list of results should come up, as can be seen in this screen-capture: 

Screen-capture displaying results retrieved from female search
  • In the next section, we will learn how to combine all three concepts using the "AND" Boolean operator