New Pubmed – fast, reliable and intuitive?

Pubmed’s user interface and functionality will be updated in early 2020, but the new interface has already been made publicly available for testing.

When you perform your first information search of the year on New Year’s Day, your favorite database Pubmed might seem very unfamiliar to you. The National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has announced that a new user interface will be released in January 2020 (though perhaps not on New Year’s Day). The current interface will remain for a transition period of a few months.

NCBI describes their work on redesigning Pubmed in the following way: ‘We are transforming Pubmed into a modern hub with a fast, reliable, and intuitive search that connects people to the world’s leading sources of biomedical information.’ For the users, the new interface is the most noticeable change, but the new Pubmed also introduces a transition to a cloud-based solution. 

NCBI has chosen to work agile; that is, to develop, test and launch functions incrementally, and, if necessary, make changes along the way. This means that you may already try the new interface if you are curious (a link is also available on Pubmed’s main page), although some features might still be missing. Because the new Pubmed is not yet the default interface, you might experience some problems with fulltext linking. Changes may be made right up to the launch and user comments are welcome. If you would like to learn more about NCBI’s work or the features of the new Pubmed, you can view this presentation.

The agile development process makes it difficult to summarize the changes, but here are some general differences that will probably appear in the new Pubmed:

  • a responsive design with better adaptation to mobile devices
  • extended mapping to Mesh terms, which means that many searches will result in more hits
  • relevance ranking (best match) as the default setting
  • ease of use when navigating from one hit to another.

We will get back to you in January when we have had a chance to evaluate the changes.

Magdalena Svanberg

Librarian who teaches and tutors students at all levels. Also part of the search group at KIB.