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What is the Advanced Search?

The Advanced Search in PubMed makes it easier to conduct more elaborate searches. It can also help to speed up some aspects of searching.

The access the Advanced Search, click on Advanced underneath the search field.


Advanced Search Builder

The top of the Advanced Search page is the Advanced Search Builder. In this area you can enter search terms and click  the blue ADD button to the right to execute the search.

Advanced Search Builder

Use the dropdown menu to the left to select a field to search. These are fields in the record such as Author, Article Title, Journal etc. This is the same as using field tags.


You can also control the Boolean operators from the Advanced Search. Click on the downward arrow on the right of the blue ADD button to display a dropdown menu with the three Boolean options. Using this option, you have the ability to build concepts before executing the search.


Add to historyFinally, you can enter search terms and send them straight to the "History and Search Details" section below. The greatly speeds up the process of entering multiple keywords when you do not have to examine the search results for each individual term.

To Add the send the search term straight to the History section, click the downward arrow on the right of the blue Search button and select Add to History.  

Search History

The Search History lists all the searches you have executed in a browsing session.

Each line is assigned a number. You can see the search term, the sorting method and the number of results found for that individual line.



Additionally, there are some commands that can be performed from the Search History section. These can be accessed on the individual search lines, under the "Actions" column.


The Actions are:

  • Add query - Sends the search term(s) from this line up to the "Query" box in the Search Builder section.
    • If there are already terms in the Query box, you will see boolean operators (AND, OR & NOT) in this menu. Using this feature, you can combine lines from your search history together to make an effective search strategy.
  • Delete - Deletes this line from your search history.
  • Save to My NCBI - The NLM says that "this feature is coming soon!"

Search Details & Term Mapping

Sometimes (due to term mapping or truncation) PubMed searches for terms that you did not intend.  The Search Details  feature allows you to see what is actually being searched, which is sometimes different from what you entered.

To access the Search Details for one of the lines in your History, click the downward arrow under the "Details" column. This will expand the fields to show you all the different terms searched in that line.

In the search below, the only terms entered were lung cancer (no quotes):


Instead of only searching for the phrase lung cancer, PubMed also searched for "lung neoplasms"[MeSH] as well as other synonyms. These additional terms were searched because of PubMed's term mapping. If the phrase had been entered as "lung cancer" the term mapping would have been disabled.

The Search Details feature is one of the most powerful advanced search features in PubMed.