Module 4: MeSH Search Techniques for Special Queries

When Is It Appropriate to Tag My Subject Terms?

Search within a Specific Field

You may want to limit your search to a specific field using tags. For example, some terms exist in MeSH as a subject term and also in PubMed as a journal title.

Let’s say you want to search PubMed for the journal Cell. If you search cell in PubMed, your term will map to the MeSH Term for cell as a subject, not as a journal, because Automatic Term Mapping (ATM) stops after it maps a term to a subject.

PubMed Advanced Search Builder page with History and Search details of the search for Cell

In this case, you can use the Field Tag for Journal [ta], so your search would look like cell[ta]. This will retrieve results from the journal Cell.

History and Search details section expanded for the search of Cell[ta] showing the journal

You can also use tags to search for terms in the title, abstract, and other specific fields of PubMed records.

  • Title/Abstract tag [tiab] - will search within a citation’s title, collection title, abstract, other abstract, and author keywords. Using this tag does not search within MeSH terms.
  • Text Words tag [tw] – will search within the title, abstract, other abstract, MeSH terms, MeSH Subheadings, Publication Types, Substance Names, Personal Name as Subject, Corporate Author, Secondary Source, Comment/Correction Notes, and Other Terms. Using [tw] will search the text within the MeSH field of PubMed records, however it turns off automatic term mapping and explosion.

For more information about field tags, see the “Searching a Specific Field” section in the PubMed User Guide.

Additional Training

For more information on MeSH terms, view the PubMed: Using the Advanced Search Builder .