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PubMed Tutorial from The Levy Library: Search Details

Search Details

The Search Details box shows how PubMed has interpreted your search and whether it has mapped your search to any MeSH terms (and if so, which MeSH terms). In the example below, PubMed automatically translated a search for the words kidney stones to the MeSH term kidney calculi. Since PubMed mapped the search correctly, this search will retrieve citations which include the term kidney stone, kidney calculi, kidney calculus, renal calculus, renal calculi, nephrolith, etc., as long as the citations containing those words have been indexed for MEDLINE.


What Could Go Wrong? Or, Why the Search Details Matter.

It's a good idea to check the Search Details after a new search to make sure that PubMed has translated your search appropriately, especially if you're using abbreviations.

Why this matters: If your search doesn't map appropriately, your results will be incomplete and you'll miss important articles.

  • For example: A search for ALS does not map, as one might expect, to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, therefore while a search for ALS may bring up some relevant results, it will miss many relevant citations on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and will not retrieve citations which include synonymous terms such as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

ALS Search Details


  • Or, for example: A search for endoplasmic reticulum or emergency room using their common abbreviation ER maps both incorrectly, giving you even worse results.

ER search details

Best Practice

Check the Search Details and if you don't see a MeSH term, spell out the abbreviation or use a synonym. Try to find a term that maps to the concept you need.

 endplastic reticulum search