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PubAlert FAQ

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  1. What do I write in the "Email Subject" field?
  2. Should I use the "Indexed references only" option?
  3. What is the 'Reference treasury'?
  4. How do I get more than 4 searches?
  5. How do I get all references from specific journals, 'Journal of Biological Chemistry' and 'Biochemistry' for example?
  6. How can I get references that originated from particular laboratories or people?
  7. Why does the search (unstable angina) returns fewer references than the search (angina unstable)?
  8. What are MeSH terms and should I use them in my PubAlert search parameters?
  9. Can I get abstracts in my PubAlert emails?
  10. Why do I sometimes get older articles in my PubAlert email (for example, an article published 3 years ago)?

Question: What do I write in the "Email Subject" field?
Answer: The contents of this field will be used for the title of the email message. Write a short description of your search, or leave it empty. If the 'Email Subject' field is left empty, the title of your email message will be your search pattern.

Question: Should I use the "Indexed references only" option?
Answer: This option will enable the power of "MeSH terms" for your searches. If you select this option, the search will look for recently indexed articles (MeSH terms added). MeSH terms may help you fish out additional relevant papers but you will get the references later (a few days to several months). Sometimes you may want to do the same search twice, with and without this option.

Note: At the end of each year PubMed refreshes it's MeSH database -- during this time no papers will be found with "Indexed references only" option switched on!

Question: What is the 'Reference treasury'?
Answer: If you add references to a reference manager, database or spreadsheet, you may find going through importing procedure with every PubAlert message pretty cumbersome. The Reference treasury allows you to collect references of interest from many messages and then import them all at once.

Question: How do I get more than 4 searches?
Answer: Open a second account.

Question: How do I get all references from specific journals, 'Journal of Biological Chemistry' and 'Biochemistry' for example?
Answer: Use 'J Biol Chem [ta] OR Biochemistry [ta]' as your search pattern.
You can get MEDLINE's abbreviation for the required journal from your search results, or from the list of journals included in PubMed (huge!). More at PubMed

Question: How can I get references that originated from particular laboratories or people?
Answer: Use a pattern like this:' watson jd [au] OR sanger f [au] OR mullis kb [au] '. More at PubMed'

Question: Why does the search (unstable angina) returns fewer references than the search (angina unstable)?
Answer: Use boolean operators AND, OR, NOT, between words as much as possible, if you don't want surprises. The PubMed search engine has some 'artificial intelligence' and tries to look for a word combination instead of separate words, if the combination makes sense. The first pattern will be searched as if it is enclosed in quotes: "unstable angina". The second pattern will be searched as: unstable AND angina. More at PubMed.

Question: What are MeSH terms and should I use them in my PubAlert search parameters?
Answer: MeSH terms are special indexing terms at PubMed. They may greatly enhance the search power of your queries, even if you don't use MeSH-terms explicitly. Newly added papers (labeled [PubMed - in process]) have not been indexed with MeSH terms yet. If you want to search using MeSH terms, select "Indexed references only".

Question: Can I get abstracts in my PubAlert emails?
Answer: Unfortunately not, it would overload PubAlert, moreover, there are copyright problems with that. When you get your PubAlert email in HTML format, you can check the boxes of the articles you would like the abstracts for and then click the "See abstracts" button to retrieve the abstracts.

Question: Why do I sometimes get older articles in my PubAlert email (for example, an article published 3 years ago)?
Answer: PubAlert sends you articles that have been recently added to the PubMed database. For some journals (for example: journals published in languages other than English) the time between publication and entry into the PubMed database may take a long time.
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