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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in MEDLINE®/PubMed®: A Tutorial

The MEDLINE Indexing Process: Determining Subject Content

NLM's MEDLINE indexers use the following steps to determine the subject content of an article:

  1. Read carefully and understand the title.
  2. Read the introduction, looking for the purpose of the article.
  3. Scan the body of the article, focus on the Materials & Methods section and the Results section.
  4. Note section headings, paragraph headings; italics, boldface; charts, plates, tables, illustrations; laboratory methods, case reports, etc.
  5. Select for indexing only those subjects actually discussed as opposed to those subjects merely mentioned.
  6. Read the summary or conclusions of the author to determine whether the stated purpose was achieved. Do not index implications or suggested future applications. Do not index conclusive statements not supported by the text.
  7. Scan the abstract for items missed, verifying that the text supports indexing these concepts.
  8. Scan the author's own indexing or the keywords supplied by the publisher to see whether the concepts chosen are actually discussed in the text.
  9. Scan the bibliographic references supplied by the author for clues and further corroboration.
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