PubMed indexes over 24 million citations from biomedical and life science journals and some online books. PubMed citations and abstracts include the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and pre-clinical sciences. PubMed is a free resource that is developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (), at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (), located at the National Institutes of Health (). While you are at UAB, you should always access PubMed through the library's website so you can have access to online journals the library pays for.
Articles in PubMed are indexed using a standardized vocabulary called Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®). A human being actually reads through the articles and assigns a list of MeSH terms for each article. You can think of MeSH terms as standardized tags.
MeSH is a powerful, value-added feature of PubMed that works behind the scenes to improve your searches. It provides consistency and uniformity so all articles about a certain subject will be retrieved, even if different terms for the concept are used in the article. For example, MeSH enables you to enter heart attack as a search term and still find articles that only use the term myocardial infarction. While myocardial infarction is the official MeSH term, PubMed recognizes heart attack as a synonym (PubMed calls these Entry Terms). Any search terms you enter that PubMed recognizes, will automatically be expanded to also search by the corresponding MeSH term. How nice!
MeSH terms are arranged in a hierarchy and are updated annually to reflect the latest advances in biomedical research.
You can browse the entire list of MeSH terms in the MeSH Database, which can be really helpful when you're starting out with a search and not sure what term(s) to use.