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PubMed Tutorial from The Levy Library: Automatics Term Mapping: The Key to PubMed

PubMed: Comprehensive, Intuitive Searching

PubMed is the interface used most often to search MEDLINE at Mount Sinai. In addition to being free, PubMed offers several advantages over other MEDLINE search platforms (ex. OvidSP, ISI Web of Knowledge).

  • A more comprehensive search: PubMed automatically includes synonyms and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in your search, so a basic PubMed search is usually more comprehensive than the same search in other versions of MEDLINE.

  • Quicker access to newly published articles: PubMed obtains data from publishers and then provides that data to commercial MEDLINE vendors.
  • A fast, intuitive search interface: PubMed is designed to facilitate efficient information retrieval by end users: clinicians and scientists.

Automatic Term Mapping is a key feature of PubMed's search formula since this mapping enables more comprehensive search results than other search interfaces.

How Automatic Term Mapping (ATM) Works

The Automatic Term Mapping process adds subject heading words from the MeSH thesaurus to your search in all fields of every PubMed record, including those that are not indexed for MEDLINE. 

First, ATM compares terms from your search query with MeSH terms, journal titles, author and investigator names. It uses a MeSH translation table to "map" your search words or phrases to MeSH headings or subheadings. If a match is found in the MeSH translation table:

  1. The term will be searched as MeSH term
  2. PubMed will add any specific terms indented under the MeSH term in the MeSH hierarchy
  3. PubMed will search the words that make up the MeSH terms in all fields of the PubMed record.  

Myocardial Infarction -MeSH TreeExample: When you search for heart attack, PubMed maps your query to the MeSH "Myocardial Infarction".

  • PubMed then adds a search for the MeSH term "Myocardial Infarction" in all the MEDLINE records in PubMed.

  • And, PubMed searches for all MEDLINE citations indexed with five more specific MeSH terms found below Myocardial Infarction in the MeSH Hierarchy, e.g., "Myocardial Stunning" and "Shock, Cardiogenic". (See the screenshot, right.)
  • In addition, PubMed searches heart attack, myocardial infarction, cardiogenic shock, myocardial stunning, etc. as text words in all fields of all the records in PubMed.