PubMed Search

Let’s say you wanted to a PubMed search for articles about “transcendental medicine”. To search for articles in which this term occurs in the title, do this PubMed search:

     transcendental medicine [ti]

Hmm, no articles were found at the time I did this search. Maybe search for this term in either the title or the abstract:

     transcendental medicine [tiab]

Still nothing. Maybe there are no articles published on PubMed on this topic.


Or suppose you wanted to search for papers by author J. Smith. You could do the following search:

     smith j [au]

Since there are many authors whose first name began with “J” and whose last name was “Smith”, there are many hits. To restrict the list to only those papers where J. Smith was the first author, use the [1au] tag instead:

     smith j [1au]

There are still many hits. To further restrict the search to first author J. Smiths from Georgetown University, try this search:

     smith j [1au] AND georgetown [ad]

which demonstrates a boolean expression. To search for first author J. Smiths from either Georgetown University or Yale University, try this search:

     smith j [1au] AND ( georgetown [ad] OR yale [ad] )

which demonstrates the boolean OR and the use of parentheses. Boolean NOT also works, but I don’t use it so often.


Here are the search tags that I use most frequently, roughly ordered from most- to least-frequently used.

Tag Function
au Author
1au First Author
ti in Title
tiab in Title or Abstract
ta in Journal; you can use the officially recognized abbreviations, e.g. you can use either “Human Brain Mapping” or “hum brain mapp”
dp Date of Publication; e.g.

    2009 [dp]

for papers published in 2009, or

    2009/2 [dp]

for papers published in February, 2009

vi in Volume (I remember this because of the vi text editor)
ip in Issue (I remember this because of IP addresses)
pg in Page


Searching PubMed

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Published in: on 11 September 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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