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Nursing Resources: A Self-Paced Tutorial and Refresher: 1.8 A Sample Search in PubMed

An online instructional tool to orient users to the NYU virtual environment: books, databases, articles, more.

A Sample PubMed Search: Does handwashing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infection?

Step by Step



1. Access
PubMed @ NYU

PubMed should be accessed via the NYU gateway to optimize access to full text of subscribed articles.


2. Identify the main concepts in your research question to conduct a simple keyword search

  • Research Question:
    Does handwashing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infection?

Connect two or three main concepts with AND:



hospital acquired infection

(Connect terms with AND
to retrieve articles with both terms included.)

3. View results. Revise Search:

  • Expand with OR, to connect synonyms nested in parentheses for one or more of your terms.
  • Re-execute your search with expanded search terms.
  • Narrow large results by adding additional terms with AND.

View results and notice how the most relevant citations are described with MeSH terms.   (Medical Subject Headings).

Re-do your search with OR'd terms in parentheses.  A broader search:

(handwashing OR hand hygiene OR hand disinfection)

(cross infection OR hospital acquired infection)

4. Filtering Results

On left menu in PubMed, filtering options can limit search results by

  • Article type
  • Age group
  • Date
  • Language, etc.

Your search results will be limited to those criteria.


5. Accessing Full Text

  • In abstract view, look for the   icon. Click icon for full text options of NYU-subscribed journals.
  • If full text is unavailable, check Bobcat or order via link to Interlibrary Loan.

6. Saving Results

As you scroll results, mark checkbox to the left of citations to save.

  • Choose Send to, then select a destination: the Clipboard, File, Email, etc.
  • Clipboard items are saved until you end the search session. Permanently save or export your results before you end the search session.
  • More about saving/managing search results here.

7. Document Your Search Strategy
  • Saving a strategy keeps a record of what you have searched. Rerun later for updates.
  • On main page, you may choose Send to for saving or email options.

  • Set up a MY NCBI account to save searches, collections, set up alerts, filters, more.
8. Revising Results

9. Get Help

Click Forward to go to Module 1.9.