Figure 1 – Preferences Page in NCBI
This is the first in a series on using PubMed. PubMed is the gateway for several important biomedical databases including Medline. Being able to work with PubMed is a very useful skill in the life sciences. In the first part the reader will need to set up an account with the National Center for Biotechnology Information. I will assume that the reader has done this. The first lesson is very simple and focuses on preferences. As someone that uses PubMed frequently I find shortcuts really useful. The shortcut i’m going to discuss here is one used in searches. The first step is to go to the preferences page once you’re logged into your NCBI account. Then under PubMed Preferences click on ‘Result Display Settings’. Finally select abstract, 200 and Pub Date under preferences. Every time you log into your NCBI account and use this to access PubMed, these preferences will be used automatically.
So what does all this mean? Well firstly the ‘abstract’ preference simply means that all returned results will be displayed with the abstract. This enables you to get a quick overview of the paper without needing to click on a hypertext link to get to the abstract. The second preference ‘200’ means that each page will feature 200 results per page. The default is 20 which means you have to click 10 times to see all of the results. The only drawback is that you need appropriate resources on your computer to avoid a sluggish response. Finally the ‘Pub Date’ preferences means that the articles will be displayed in chronological order. This is especially useful if your interested in the most recent papers in the field.
So that’s the lesson – brief and simple and you’ll see the benefits after using the saved preferences on just a few occasions. Of course if your needs are different then you can just adjust the preferences accordingly.
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