Creating a Custom Filter in PubMed

PubMed custom filters allow you to filter any set of search results by criteria that are important to you.

PubMed provides a filter bar on search results pages to limit results by common criteria such as article type, gender, or age. These filters are useful, but customized filters aligned with your research interests can save you time and effort.

A researcher interested in the health of immigrants to the United States, for example, could create a filter for that population group, and add it to any relevant health topic search.

A topic filter can be represented with more than one word or phrase. The trick is to identify the most common words used to describe a topic in journal articles, test them, and add any productive ones to your filter. One approach would be to search for articles with your topic mentioned in the article title, and look for synonyms and subject headings for the topic in the retrieved records.

Using the United States immigrants example, a search was run for immigra*[ti] AND United States. The asterisk is a truncation mark signaling PubMed to retrieve variations on the word root. Many synonyms and variations on the word immigrant were collected and tested.

In the final search, they are connected by OR inside parentheses. AND is used to add United States to the search.

(immigrant* OR immigrat* OR emigrant* OR emigrat* OR emigre* OR migrant* OR migrat* OR undocumented) AND united states

Next you would log in to your My NCBI account, copy and paste your filter into the Filter manager, and then set it to appear with your PubMed search results. There is a short video showing how to add a custom filter to your My NCBI account in the collection of videos on using My NCBI’s features.

Now you can apply the filter to any search that you run. For example, a search for type 2 diabetes retrieves over 129,900 citations. Limiting it with the United States immigrant filter reduced that number to 247 citations.

For assistance creating a search filter, contact your liaison librarian or Ask a Librarian.

~Barb Folb