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A New and Improved PubMed!

Posted by on January 22nd, 2020 Posted in: NLM Products, PubMed, Technology


NLM’s PubMed has long been recognized as a critical resource for helping researchers, health care professionals, students, and the general public keep current with rapid advances in the life sciences. NLM is excited to introduce an updated version of PubMed that features an updated design and technology to improve the user experience. Launched in 1996 as an experimental website, PubMed has provided an easy, effective way to search a large portion of the published biomedical literature free of charge. The importance of PubMed is evidenced by its heavy use. Each day, more than 2 million people use PubMed to search a body of more than 30 million abstracts and citations, making it one of the most frequently used U.S. government websites.

Over the past 24 years, NLM has continuously updated and refined PubMed to keep pace with ever-changing information technologies and added features and enhancements to make it easier for users to find relevant information quickly. Along the way, there were two major updates to the web interface, one in 2000 and another in 2010, and introduction of a separate mobile version of PubMed, in 2011. In early 2017, NLM launched a comprehensive effort to take PubMed to the next level, with a goal to transform PubMed into a modern hub with a fast, reliable, intuitive search that connects people to the world’s leading sources of biomedical information.

Connecting people to the information they seek requires a great retrieval engine. Under the leadership of NLM’s Zhiyong Lu, PhD, and his team, the retrieval engine was enhanced using advanced machine-learning technology to develop a new relevance search algorithm. This algorithm optimizes the quality of top-ranked results and is used by PubMed’s new Best Match feature for sorting search results. On the technology side, PubMed has moved to an open-source search platform, critical in moving to the cloud, providing greater scalability and reliability. And to deliver the best possible experience, front-end developers produced a modern, responsive website that is optimized for the needs of today’s information seeker.

To truly understand the needs of PubMed users and how best to deliver solutions that meet those needs, NLM engaged with a broad array of users; analyzed customer service data; reviewed survey responses; and tested dozens of design solutions and enhancements with expert PubMed users, novices, and everyone in between. One thing learned during these efforts was that initial assumptions and ideas weren’t always right, reinforcing the importance of continuing to listen to PubMed’s users and making iterative improvements.

Experience the latest version of PubMed for yourself!

  • Are you looking for the most relevant papers in a given area? Try the Best Match sort option.
  • Are you writing a grant proposal or peer-reviewed manuscript? The Cite button will come in quite handy.
  • Are you a power user constructing a systematic review? The Advanced Search workflow has been updated to be more intuitive and flexible.
  • Do you need to access PubMed while away from your desktop? Your mobile device now provides the same full-featured experience via PubMed’s modern, responsive design.

At the bottom of each page of the new site you will find a green Feedback button. Whether you think the new version of PubMed is great just the way it is, or you have a suggestion for how to make it better, NLM is waiting to hear from you!

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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