Skip to main content
library logo banner

PubMed: Introduction

What is PubMed?

PubMed homepage

  • ​PubMed is a library database that provides records of articles and other documents in health and biomedicine, along with aspects of behavioural sciences, bioengineering, chemical sciences and life sciences. PubMed is provided by the US National Library of Medicine and US National Institutes of Health but its coverage is international.
  • It is a very extensive and reputable database, but if you are doing a systematic review, you are advised to search multiple databases in order to identify literature on your topic.
  • Date coverage: generally 1946 to present, with some older material indexed.
  • Core content: PubMed provides access to Medline, an index of articles and other documents from across 5,600 worldwide publications (mostly peer-reviewed academic journals but also newsletters and magazines). List of journals indexed by PubMed.
  • Additional content: PubMed also provides access to online books, websites and molecular biology resources.
  • Connect to PubMed:

PubMed's MEDLINE content vs Embase

  • There are differences in journal coverage between Embase and MEDLINE.  Both index approximately 6,000 journals: about 3,000 journals indexed by Embase are not indexed by MEDLINE, and about 3,000 journals indexed by MEDLINE are not indexed by Embase.
  • The MEDLINE journal content can be searched using Embase, but the Embase journal content cannot be searched using MEDLINE.
  • Embase is produced by Elsevier in Europe and has more European journal coverage, MEDLINE is produced in North America and has more American journal coverage.
  • There is a significant difference in indexing. The index to MEDLINE is called MeSH.  The index to Embase is called Emtree.  MeSH contains approximately 30,000 controlled subject headings whereas Emtree has approximately 60,000.  The extra Emtree terms are mainly for drugs and medical devices. This means that Embase is much better than Medline if you are searching for a drug name, drug class or type of medical device.
  • Embase indexes routes of drug administration, MEDLINE does not.
  • Embase indexes medical device trade names and manufacturers, MEDLINE does not.

Checking availability of articles

  • It is best not to use the “text availability” filters to limit your results.  This does not identify articles available through the Library’s subscriptions.
     
  • To find out if an article is available to you, click the title of the relevant search result in order to enter its full PubMed record.  Then, if you see if there's a publisher’s logo in the top right hand corner, click the logo.  This may take you to the full text of the document. 
     
  • If the full article/document is not available online via PubMed:

    1. Search the Library Catalogue for the article title.  If this fails to retrieve a result, search instead for the journal title in which the article was published.  Catalogue records of journalsl include details of which year/volume/issues we provide.  You may find that we provide a printed copy of the journal in the library. 

    2. If the Library does not provide the article in either online or print format, you may find a legitimate open access version of the article on Google Scholar or consider requesting it via our Inter-Library Loans service.   

Connecting to PubMed

  • The best way to connect to PubMed is to use a link from within the Library website.  Using a library link makes it easier for you to access the full-text of articles that the Library has provided through its subscriptions.

    You can find a link to PubMed by searching the Library Catalogue or visiting the Library's webpages for Health, Pharmacy, Biology and Biosciences, Psychology, and Mechanical Engineering.  Here is another link you can use: