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Medical Subject Headings

Suggestions for Authors

We are not able to provide individual assistance in selecting keywords for journal articles. Individual assistance should be sought from your local medical library. The following are general suggestions for authors of journal articles who are interested in selecting MeSH descriptors (terms) as key words for their articles. Instructions to Authors vary for different journals; the specific journal should be consulted before selecting keywords.

The MeSH Section tool for searching the vocabulary is the MeSH Browser, an online Web application. Locate a vocabulary term using any word in an expression or using the complete expression. Select the most specific heading. For example, "feedback" can be used to find "Feedback, Biochemical" or "Feedback (Psychology)" as well as other expressions containing the word "feedback."

Start with specific words or short expressions. Consider using two or three terms to best describe the essential subject(s) of your article. It is best to avoid entering a sentence or article title as the results may not be of use.

Headings may also be found by following a hierarchical path using "Navigate from tree top". The "Trees" or hierarchical structure of MeSH provided by MeSH Tree Numbers makes it possible to view terms in the context of broader and narrower concepts. To see a term's location in the hierarchy, click on the heading's "Tree Number" entry in the record display. The plus ("+") symbol in the hierarchical display indicates that narrower concepts are available by clicking on the link. (See the example in the Browser's About page.) Note that the preferred expression is indicated by the label "MeSH Heading" and not "Entry Term." The desired terms may then be copied from the MeSH Browser.

Another way of finding appropriate headings is to search PubMed to find articles on similar topics, and review the MeSH headings assigned to those articles.