Searching PubMed in five easy steps

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Searching PubMed in five easy steps

You can find and read the studies that are referenced in the pages of this report by searching PubMed, a resource of the National Library of Medicine. You can read abstracts (short summaries) of the studies for free, but in most cases you will have to pay to obtain the full report.

Here’s how to access an abstract:

  1. Open up your browser’s window while connected to the Internet. Type www.pubmed.gov and hit return.
  2. This brings you to the PubMed welcome page. You will see the following:
  3. In the search box at the top of the page, type the PMID (short for “PubMed ID”) number that appears with the reference you want. For example, for the study by Gong et al, published in 2009 in the journal Cancer (see “Heavy drinking may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer”), the PMID is 19598210.
  4. Click on “Search” or press the enter key. PubMed will retrieve the abstract, which will appear on your screen.
  5. If the journal provides a link for purchase — or if a link is provided for a free copy of the article — click on the icon and follow the instructions.

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