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MeSH Browser Overview

The MeSH Browser is an online vocabulary look-up aid available for use with MeSH® (Medical Subject Headings). It is designed to help quickly locate descriptors of possible interest and to show the hierarchy in which descriptors of interest appear. Virtually complete MeSH records are available, including the scope notes, annotations, entry vocabulary, history notes, allowable qualifiers, etc. The browser does not link directly to any MEDLINE or other database retrieval system and thus is not a substitute for the PUBMED system.

The current-year MeSH Browser points to the version of MeSH that is in use for indexing. It also includes all Supplementary Records that are added on daily basis. Note that we offer a second browser view that displays last years MeSH from January to September, and next year's MeSH from October to December. Comparing results from the two browser versions may help you revise your search strategies to reflect changes in MeSH vocabulary and indexing practices. 

The MeSH Browser may be used to find Descriptors, Qualifiers, or Supplementary Records of interest and see these in relationship to other concepts. It finds MeSH records for users without needing to know complex vocabulary structure and rules.

For example, if you enter "male neoplasms" as a search, the Browser will display a list of related descriptors including:

  • Breast Neoplasms, Male (a MeSH descriptor)
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male (a MeSH descriptor)
  • Male Breast Neoplasms (an entry term to MeSH)
  • Male Genital Neoplasms (an entry term to MeSH)
  • Etc.

The look-up can be restricted or limited with any of the following:

  • Main Headings
  • Qualifiers
  • Supplementary Concepts
  • All of the Above

Searching for names of Supplementary Records can be limited to any of the following fields:

  • Heading Mapped To (HM) (Supplementary List)
  • Indexing Information (II) (Supplementary List)
  • Pharmacological Action (PA)
  • CAS Registry/EC Number/UNII Code (RN)
  • Related Registry Number (RR)

When a single descriptor has been selected, the complete record can then be displayed. Fields or elements within the descriptor are linked to additional sources such as related Indexing Manual sections, definitions and other similar information.

Navigating the MeSH hierarchy

Clicking on "Navigate from the tree top" will allow you to browse the MeSH hierarchy from the broadest to the narrowest MeSH headings.  You can also jump to the MeSH tree by clicking the Tree Number from inside record.

Viewing Records

The initial MeSH record view in the Browser is refered to as the "Standard View". This view should satisfy all your basic needs if you are using MeSH to search and retreive citations. The additional views "Concept View" and  Expanded Concept View" present additional metadata about the record such as Concept UI, Semantic Type, and Lexical Tag  as it exists in XML MeSH. To learn more about these elements see: Concept Structure in XML MeSH.

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