Filtering Search Results in PubMed

Overwhelmed with the number of results retrieved in a PubMed search? You can narrow down the results by using PubMed Filters, located to the left of your results. Filters allow you to limit your results based on certain criteria: article type, publication date, age, language, and more.

To see additional filters, click on Select Additional Filters and mark the category(s) of interest. Once checked they will be displayed for you to select them to limit your search.

However, there are some things to consider when using Filters. The majority of Filters rely on MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), and only articles from the journals indexed in Medline have MeSH. And while Medline comprises the majority of PubMed, there is some content found in PubMed which is not indexed in Medline. This can be due to recent publications that are still “In-Process” and awaiting MeSH indexing, or content that is deposited in PubMed through the Open Access initiatives of PubMed Central (PMC).

Since most of the Filters are MeSH, by applying them you automatically limit your search results to Medline content, thus excluding the most recent, In-Process, Medline content and the rest of PubMed. The only Filters that are not MeSH and can be safely applied to your search are ‘Publication dates’ and ‘Languages’.

What if you want to still use the Filters and conduct a comprehensive search or include the In-Process citations? You will need to apply the Filters to retrieve Medline citations and use additional search strategies to retrieve as much of non-Medline content as possible.


  • Medline is not the whole of PubMed.
  • Only references from Medline indexed journals are searchable with MeSH (with the exception of the most recent ones which are In-Process).
  • Most Filters are MeSH and using them automatically limits your search to Medline processed citations.
  • If you still want to use Filters yet to capture both Medline and non-Medline citations you need to devise your search strategies accordingly.
  • In case you need help with searching ask your Librarian.

Predicting Breast Cancer Spread and More

  • Scientists from Johns Hopkins University developed a new diagnostic tool for predicting breast cancer spread. Knowing whether a tumor is going to metastasize is crucial for timely addressing the issue and ultimately prolonging lives. Current prediction tools use genetics screening which can be difficult to interpret. The new tool, called MAqCI, developed by Professor Konstantopoulos team is based on cell characteristics, behavior and phenotype. This was reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering on May 6th.
  • A new and potentially more effective way to prevent the spread of castration resistant prostate cancer was identified by researchers from at Boston University School of Medicine. The team of researchers “discovered that inhibition of the protein BRD 4” may be a way to hinder cancer spread by regulating cancer cell migration and invasion. The study was published in Molecular Cancer Research on May 20th.
  • Through a unique intersection of biology, medicine, physics and mathematics, researchers from Johns Hopkins University created a visualization they compared to Google Maps of blood vessels and blood flow in a tumor. While this technology will likely not be used to directly study human cancer growth, the tools can be used to identify earlier signs of cancer and predict it’s behavior to customize treatment. A report originally published in March was publicized recently on a physics news site.

Searching for Conference Abstracts

Oftentimes when searching the literature, you may want to include conference abstracts. These can be vital sources of information in subject areas that are on the forefront of research or where the literature is scarce. However, finding and using conference abstracts can sometimes lead to confusion and frustration.

The first source of frustration is that conference abstracts are just that, abstracts. There are no full-text article associated with them. Sometimes the authors may publish an article later from their conference abstract, but this would be a separate citation. The “full-text” may only be a PDF of the poster abstracts, but typically will not include any more information than the database record.

The second source of frustration is finding these conference abstracts. Not every database includes conference abstracts, so if you are only searching PubMed you will not find them, as PubMed does not typically index conferences (including conference papers, posters, presentations, etc.).

The following databases are great for searching for conference abstracts/posters and papers:

  • Web of Science: WOS Core Collection includes Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science (CPCI-S) –1994-present and Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Social Science & Humanities (CPCI-SSH) –1994-present.
  • Embase: “Embase includes conference abstracts from important biomedical, drug and medical device conferences dating back to 2009. It currently indexes 7,000+ conferences covering over 2.4 million conference abstracts-advanced information that can’t be found searching MEDLINE alone.”
  • Scopus: “9 million conference papers from proceedings and journals.”


  1. Not every database indexes conference abstracts – PubMed does NOT generally index conference abstracts.
  2. Most of the time the meeting abstract is included in the database record (unless it is a summary record to all the abstracts from a conference).
  3. There is no full-text article for a conference abstract – it is possible that later an article will be published based on the same study presented initially as a conference abstract, however that will be a separate citation.