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Verifying Citations Using Single Citation Matcher

This tutorial teaches how to use PubMed's Single Citation Matcher to verify a citation. This tutorial is part of the Library 101 Tutorial Series.

If you don’t have the complete citation of an article you are looking for, or if you are simply unsure of the citation you have in hand, the National Library of Medicine's PubMed provides a handy tool, "Single Citation Matcher", for you to verify your citation. This tutorial will demonstrate how to use Single Citation Matcher to verify citations.


Let's say a professor or colleague of yours mentioned to you a good review article on "atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease" by someone whose name sounded like "Hanson", published in The New England Journal of Medicine, and you want to find the full text of that article and read it. Well, the first step is to verify the citation of the article.

Accessing the Single Citation Matcher

The Single Citation Matcher is a service provided by PubMed. You can easily access PubMed from the Medical Library homepage. There is a link for "PubMed@Yale" in the "Resources" list in the left column of the page. Click on that link to access PubMed.

This is the PubMed home page. In the middle column of the page, under "PubMed Tools", there is a link for Single Citation Matcher. Click on that link to access Single Citation Matcher.

Entering Citation Information in Single Citation Matcher

How does the Single Citation Matcher Work?

The Single Citation Matcher is a "fill-in-the-blank" form that allows you to enter partial journal article citation information to locate that citation. Any of these fields can be left blank. You simply need to fill in the part you know.

For example, if you know that the good review article by Hanson on “atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease” was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, you would type in “New England Journal of Medicine” in the journal field, “Hanson” in the author field, and “atherosclerosis coronary artery disease” in the title words field.

Notice that the journal and author fields have an auto-complete feature, which suggests journal titles or authors as you type. This feature helps eliminate the chance of typos and other errors. When you see the journal title or author you are looking for, just stop entering and select it from the drop down menu.

If you are sure that the author name you entered is the first author of the article you are looking for, you can check the "Only as first author" box.

Let's click the “GO” button to search.

Broadening or Narrowing Your Search

If your search returns either too many or too few search results, you will need to either broaden or narrow your search. The basic rule is:

Provide less information to broaden the search; provide more information to narrow the search.

For example, our search here returns no result, which means that part of the information we provided was not correct. We should then go back to Single Citation Matcher to look for any typos or other errors, or simply eliminate any information that we are not so sure of.

For example, when we entered the author's name Hanson, we noticed that there were a lot of names sounding like “Hanson” – maybe this author’s name is spelled differently from the way we typed in. Let’s omit the author field and broaden our search.

This time it correctly produced the result we want – we did spell the author’s name wrong.