What is PubMed?

PubMed is a freely searchable database with citations for biomedical literature, that includes:

  • 32 million citations dating back to ca. 1946
  • 5600 biomedical journals

NLM logo   The content is managed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the US.


Click the link below to immediately go to PubMed

Overview: Search options in PubMed

1. Simple subject search
You can easily search by subject by typing the search term or terms in the search box. The automatic term mapping function includes the most suitable MeSH terms (See tab: MeSH) in the search.

Follow these tutorials for a short demo:

For example, what goes wrong when you search for 'labor' (as in: giving birth)?

2. Searching with MeSH and tiab
For a complete search, always combine MeSH terms (See tab: MeSH) with search terms in the title and/or abstract [tiab] (See tab: Search by Word).

3. History & Advanced Search Builder
To view the search history, click Advanced right below the search box. This opens the Advanced Search Builder (See tab: Combine Search Terms) where you can build your search in a structured, step-by-step way.

4. Limiting results with filters & Clinical Queries
Once you have combined the different components of your query into a final search strategy, you can limit your results with filters and/or Clinical Queries (See tab: Filters & Clinical Queries).

PubMed, MEDLINE & Embase

MEDLINE is the reference database of the National Library of Medicine® (NLM®). It contains 26 million references, which you can access via a license from EBSCO or OVID. In the case of the Hanze Library, this is an EBSCO license, which allows you to search MEDLINE during your studies. 

PubMed, on the other hand, is freely accessible, so you can search for literature even after your studies. It is true that after your studies you can only open the Open Access articles full-text. PubMed contains 31 million references, including the entire MEDLINE database, as well as additional references related to Life Sciences and non-medical articles. 

Nowadays, the content of PubMed and MEDLINE are nearly identical. MEDLINE has a small delay (of a few days) in entering new articles, but offers more advanced search options.

Embase is the medical search engine of the publisher Elsevier. Embase is more focused on European publications, while PubMed focuses more on publications from the US. Unfortunately, the Hanze Library does not have a license for this search engine, but if you do have the opportunity through your internship or client, we recommend that you also try Embase.

Here you can read more about the differences between MEDLINE, PubMed and PubMedCentral (PMC). Also view our Library Guides below for more information about systematic searches in different databases.

Other relevant Library Guides

Library consultation hour, available Mon-Fri!

On Mon-Fri, the information specialists organize both an online as well as a consultation hour on location (Zernike/Wiebenga), so that you can ask your questions about literature research. You can find the information specialist between 11:30AM-12:30PM in the pod in the back of the library at Zernike, or in the first green group project cubical of the library at Wiebenga. Is it too busy or do you prefer to helped online? Use the link below to enter the online consultation hour (also between 11:30-12:30 on Mon-Fri).


Blackboard Orientation – Howard College Every workday between 11:30 and 12:30 you can ask us your questions through​ this link in Blackboard Collaborate.
(Open this link in Google Chrome.)

Do you have questions about literature research? We would be happy to speak to you during the consultation hour!

- The information specialists of the Hanze Library