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Cancer Center Summer Research Scholars: Search Tips & Tutorials

PubMed Tools

What can PubMed do for me?

PubMed is the premier biomedical database and is free for anyone to use. You could think of it like a search engine specifically for articles about health and medicine.  Use the link from this guide or Biomed's home page to make sure you can get to the full text using UC-eLinks.  Bookmark or favorite this link for easy access.

(It can also be used from off-campus.)


Did you know that in PubMed you can:

Use Filters to:

  • Specify the type(s) of articles retrieved (e.g., Clinical Trials, Case Studies, Reviews)
  • Specify age groups (e.g., 6-12 year olds, 19-44 year olds, 80 & over, and more)
  • Specify human or animal studies
  • Specify the language of the article
  • Limit resources to specific topics, like Bioethics

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about Limits.

Use Clinical Queries to:

  • Find systematic reviews
  • Use preformatted filters for evidence-based searching
  • Target articles on medical genetics

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about using Clinical Queries

Sharpen your PubMed skills with these tutorials:

PubMed's Clinical Queries -- Prognosis

PubMed - Quick steps to using MeSH terms

Google & Google Scholar Tips

Google - to find good, authoritative web resources

Google can be a great way to find government information on the web.  It might be a county, state, or national government organization, for example County of San Diego Public Health Services, California Department of Public Health, or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.  With a couple of simple steps, you can search your topic of interest and limit to the more authoritative literature instead of "Any Joe's" website.

  • site:gov

use this to find government related websites


once you know the beginning of an organizations URL, use that to find your topic at their pages

  • quotation marks  "..."

put phases within quotation marks to find pages where the words are together

  • check out the Advanced Search page

find more options and ways to direct your search

Google Scholar - to find scholarly articles not web pages

Find the scholarly articles in Google Scholar without having to deal with the web pages you don't want.  Need that higher level of evidence to make your point?  Need to see what experts have to say on your topic?  You will find both by using articles published in professional journals (as opposed to newspapers and popular journals) and Google Scholar is one way to do that.  It is easy to use but using some of the following tricks, you can target your search a bit more specific to your topic.

  • quotation marks "..."

like regular Google, put phrases together

  • Think like an author -- put your search word or phrase in the title of the articles (careful - not to many words)

Find this option on the Advanced Search Page

  • Time span & Recently published articles -- are not automatically on the top of the results, so tell Scholar you need articles from what span of time

Find this option on the Advanced Search Page

Tips for Your Search Strategy

5 Search Strategy Tips

  1. Be Specific - use the most specific terms you have.
  2. Browse - when you are uncertain of the right topic or terms, look online, browse through books, talk with friends and mentors.
  3. Have expectations and assumption about what you want or anticipate finding.
  4. Think & Plan - think like an author and plan best resource(s) to use.
  5. Learn to work the tools - From advanced search to filters & limits, learn how to work the tools and resources because a little finesse can save you lots of time.