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Nursing and Allied Health: Display, sort and; navigate

Online Learning


Combining search terms with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)


Capitalize Boolean operators such as AND, OR, NOT


It is important to capitalize Boolean operators or connectors in PubMed.  Make it a practice in other databases lest you forget.

PubMed applies an AND operator between concepts, e.g., "vitamin c common cold" is translated as vitamin c AND common cold. Enter Boolean operators in uppercase characters to combine or exclude search terms:

  • AND retrieves results that include all the search terms.
  • OR retrieves results that include at least one of the search terms.
  • NOT excludes the retrieval of terms from your search.

PubMed processes searches in a left-to-right sequence. Use parentheses to "nest" concepts that should be processed as a unit and then incorporated into the overall search.

Boolean operators must be used when combining tagged search terms as follows: search term [tag] BOOLEAN OPERATOR search term [tag]. See Search Field descriptions and tags.

  • PubMed uses automatic term mapping to identify concepts. For example, for the search air bladder fistula, PubMed will search "air bladder" as a phrase. If you do not want this automatic phrase parsing, enter each term separated by the Boolean operator AND, e.g., air AND bladder AND fistula.
  • Search Details show how a search was translated.
Showing more results


The results page indicates the total number of items retrieved.

You can change the number of items displayed per page using the Display options button: The default display is 10 items.

  1. Click the Display options button in the upper right corner of the search results page
  2. Select the number of items to display per page: 10, 20, 50, 100, or 200
  3. Your selection will be active for subsequent searches until your browser cookies are cleared.

Click "Show more" to display the next page of results, or click "Jump to page" to navigate directly to a specific page of results. 

Sorting your results


Click the Display options button in the upper right corner of the search results page to change the sort order:

  • Best Match: By default, results are sorted by Best Match. The Best Match sort order is based on an algorithm that analyzes each PubMed citation found with your search terms. For each search query, "weight" is calculated for citations depending on how many search terms are found and in which fields they are found. In addition, recently-published articles are given a somewhat higher weight for sorting. The top articles returned by the weighted term frequency algorithm above are then re-ranked for better relevance by a new machine-learning algorithm. Please see the Algorithm for finding best matching citations in PubMed for more information.
  • Most Recent: Citations sorted by Most Recent are displayed in reverse date added order: last in, first out. The Most Recent date is the date a record was initially added to PubMed, not the publication date. The secondary sort is PMID.
  • Publication Date: Citations sorted by Publication Date are displayed in reverse chronological order: newest to oldest. Citations with more than one publication date, such as electronic and print, are sorted by their earliest publication date. Publication dates without a month are set to January, multiple months (e.g., Oct-Dec) are set to the first month, and dates without a day are set to the first day of the month. Dates with a season are set as: winter = January, spring = April, summer = July and fall = October.
  • First Author: Citations are sorted alphabetically by first author name. The secondary sort order within a group with the same first author is PMID.
  • Journal: Citations are sorted alphabetically by journal name. The secondary sort order within a group with the same journal name is PMID.
Reverse sort order:


  • When sorting by Most Recent, Publication Date, First Author, or Journal, you can reverse the sort order by clicking the Display options button and then clicking the up/down arrow next to the selected sort by option to toggle between ascending or descending order.
  • The reverse sort option will not display when Best Match sort order is selected.
More information about sorting:
  • If you change the sort order, your new selection will be active for subsequent searches until your browser cookies are cleared.
  • You may click an author link on the abstract display to execute a search for the author in PubMed. If an author name is computationally similar with an author name for additional PubMed citations, the results will display those citations first, in ranked order, followed by the non-similar citations. Author name disambiguation details are available in Liu W and Wilbur WJ .
Changing the display format of search results


Results are displayed in the summary format by default, except a single citation result will go directly to the abstract page. You can change the results format using the Display options button:

  1. Click the Display options button in the upper right corner of the search results page
  2. Select the display format you would like to use
  3. Results will be displayed in the new format

Selecting one or more items and changing the display format will display only the selected result(s) in the new format.

By default, the summary format includes snippets from the citation abstract. You can turn off snippets under Display options by deselecting Show snippets.

Display an abstract


Click the title of the citation to go to its abstract page, or change the search results display to Abstract format using the Display options button in the upper right corner of the search results page.

PubMed may include non-English abstracts if supplied by the publisher. The abstract text defaults to English when a citation has an accompanying non-English abstract. Links to display the additional language(s) are available on the Abstract display. To retrieve citations with non-English abstracts, use the query hasnonenglishabstract.


Understanding your search results


Citations are initially displayed 10 items per page and sorted by Best Match.

By default, PubMed search results are displayed in a summary format and include snippets from the citation abstract. Snippets and highlighted terms are selected based on relatedness to your query.

To see the abstract for an individual citation, click the title of the citation to go to its abstract page.

Journal names are shown using the journal title abbreviation. When viewing citations in Abstract format, mouse over a journal’s title abbreviation to display the full journal name.

Finding full text articles at Northwestern State University


Most databases contain links to articles in both PDF, HTML format.  Links are not always dynamic. Sometimes, you will see a link that reads Link to full text finder. When the link does pull up your article in full text, you may need to use the Journals Full Text Finder.

Journals Full Text Finder is on the NSULA Libraries home page in a purple box.

  • 1. Click on the link and enter the journal name.
  • 2. Click to the date and volume of the journal
  • 3. Alternatively, you can look at the entire list of Full text Nursing & Allied Health Journals

Full Text Nursing & Allied Health Journals


Finding the full-text article


PubMed records contain citation information (e.g., title, authors, journal, publication date) and abstracts of published articles and books. PubMed search results do not include the full text of the journal article, but the abstract view in PubMed includes links to the full text from other sources when available, such as the publisher’s website or the PubMed Central (PMC) database. The full-text journal site may require a fee or subscription, however online journals sometimes provide free access. Access may also be available through your organization, or local medical library.

You may be able to obtain free copies of full-text articles in these ways:


Free full text filter


On the filter sidebar, click "Free full text" to narrow results to resources that are available for free on the web, including PubMed Central, Bookshelf, and publishers' websites. Alternately, include free full text[Filter] in your query.


PubMed Central


When full text is available in PubMed Central (PMC), the "Free in PMC" icon will appear on the citation's abstract display under Full-Text Links. Click the icon to view the article in PMC.

PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.


From the publisher


Journal publishers or related organizations may provide access to articles for free, for free after registering as an individual or guest, or for a fee. When provided by the publisher or other organization, icons linking to these sources can be found on the citation's abstract display under the "Full-Text Links" and/or "LinkOut" sections. Icons will often indicate free full text when the article is available for free.

Note: When you click a full text icon or link in PubMed, you leave PubMed and are directed to the full text at an external provider's site. NCBI does not hold the copyright to this material, and cannot give permission for its use. Users should review all copyright restrictions set forth by the full text provider before reproducing, redistributing, or making commercial use of material accessed through LinkOut.

Please see the Copyright and Disclaimers page for additional information.


If you are affiliated with a hospital, university, or other institution


Your medical or nursing  library is your best option. If you see icons for your library on the abstract view this indicates that your library provides a link to the article, has the journal in its collection, or may otherwise obtain the article for you through interlibrary loan. If your library does not have access to the article you need, ask a librarian about ordering the article from another institution.


Local library


Some nursing and medical  libraries have copies of medical journals or can get a copy of an article for you. Ask your local librarian about inter-library loan options and fees.


Interlibrary Loan


You can cut and paste into the interlibrary loan form from the bibliographic record:

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