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PubMed: Manage your searches

Use this guide to help you search PubMed more effectively and to find out how to manage your search results. After reading this introductory page, click each heading in the following row of tabs:

Selecting and saving search results

When you retrieve search results in a database, we highly recommended that you:

  • Identify and select any individual results that are potential value to your review.  
  • Save multiple back-up copies of those selected results in various locations (e.g. email, cloud, hard drive, USB stick). 
  • Even experienced researchers can lose information!

How to select and save results in PubMed:

  1. Click/select the box next to any individual result(s) of interest.

    Selecting a search result for saving

  2. Click the save option, just above your search results, in order to display the 'save citations to file' options.  From these options, you need to select the format in which you would like your references to appear.  For example, you might prefer to select one of the text formats. Then click 'create file' and a file of your selected search results will appear in your device's downloads folder (you can then choose to save copies in any location of your choice e.g. USB stick).

    If you are using EndNote to manage your references, you need to select the 'PubMed' format: for EndNote users: further instructions on saving references from databases (including PubMed).  

    Select a format for saving your file of results.

  3. Also, note the email option (located next to the save option).  If you click this, you can choose which email address to use and whether or not to include abstracts.  You can also add further information to the main body of your email. 

    Emailing selected results in PubMed

Saving searches & setting up alerts

View the following instructional video (provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine) or read on:

Most databases provide the option to save a search on the database's server so that you can run it again the next time you enter the database without having to re-enter all your search terms.

Most databases also enable you to set up an email alert so that you are alerted, for example, each time the database indexes an article that relates to your search terms (or an author/set of journals that you have identified). To save searches and set up alerts:


1. Run a search on your topic. Click save alert located just below the search box. This enables you to save your search at the same time.

Saving searches and creating alerts in PubMed


2. A new screen appears requiring you to log in to your PubMed account using your '3rd party' platform of choice (e.g. Facebook, Google or Microsoft). If you haven't already set up a PubMed account, register here. There is an option to sign-in using your University password but this has not proven to work consistently and it won't enable you to keep your account after you've left University.

Once logged in, a
 form appears giving you the option to set the content and frequency of your alerts (if it doesn't appear, click 'save search' again).  Complete the form and click 'save'. 

3. Retrieve and re-run searches at a later date. Enter PubMed and log in to NCBI (the login button is in the top right-hand corner of the screen). Click your username (top right corner) and then click dashboard. On your dashboard, you can view a list of your previously saved searches and click one to re-run it. To amend a previous search, click the cog icon next to it. If you are unable to view the searches,
 click the small arrow to the right of the heading 'saved searches'.