Try Our New, Experimental PubMed Search and User Interface in PubMed Labs


NLM needs your input. We are experimenting with a new PubMed search algorithm, as well as a modern, mobile-first user interface, and want to know what you think. You can try out these experimental elements at PubMed Labs, a website we created for the very purpose of giving potential new PubMed features a test drive and gathering user opinions.

Please note that PubMed Labs includes only a limited set of features at this time and not the full set of PubMed tools. The absence of a feature or tool on PubMed Labs does not mean we plan to eliminate it from PubMed; it simply means we are not testing it now!

The key elements we are testing are:

In PubMed Labs, search results are listed by best match. The best match button is at the top right; you can also click the "most recent" button (to the right of "best match") to sort by date.

  • A new search algorithm for ranking (ordering) the best matches to your query

Based on analysis of data obtained from anonymous PubMed search logs, we have developed a new algorithm that we believe does a much better job of sorting search results by their relevance, or “best match,” to your query. This new algorithm incorporates machine learning to re-rank the top articles returned.

We were so excited by results with this algorithm that we already implemented it in PubMed, but it is still experimental and we would very much appreciate hearing what you think. Part of our test in PubMed Labs is having best match be the default sort, instead of PubMed’s default of sorting by most recent articles. If you find that you prefer to sort by the most recent articles instead, it takes only a simple click of a button to do so.

Interested in specifics about the new algorithm? You can read more in this NLM Technical Bulletin.

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PubMed Labs is now part of NCBI Labs


About two years ago, NCBI launched PubMed Labs, a gathering place for discovering and experimenting with new features and content for NCBI’s family of websites.  Over those years, we launched a few experiments that have helped us learn more about our customers and how we can serve them better.

Today we’re happy to announce that we’re expanding PubMed Labs to a broader set of experiments called NCBI Labs.

Why are we doing this?

  • To better convey the breadth of upcoming experiments on data, services, and websites that NCBI offers now and hopes to offer in the future.  You can expect to see new features, content, and other experiments from NCBI Labs in the coming months.
  • To reserve the name “PubMed Labs” for an exciting new set of experiments around biomedical literature and especially literature search.

What Will Change?

This blog’s menu item and blog category “PubMed Labs” will now appear as “NCBI Labs”. Existing links will continue to work.  We won’t be updating the old blog posts, for the most part, although some links on existing sites (e.g. on PubMed Journals) may be updated to use the new name.