Purpose of App Review

Visualizing publication trends on a given topic in the PubMed database, whether on a mobile device or otherwise, is not always the easiest undertaking. This review serves to highlight the usefulness and simplicity of PubMed Trends as a mobile app to help users graphically review trends in their research topic by year.


PubMed Trends is an app developed by a technical consulting company called Sourcenet. The developers have designed an app for tracking trends in publications for the past ten years. All data in the app is pulled from the PubMed database as this information is made publicly available free of charge. The graph that auto-generates upon entering a search request is one that depicts the growth percentage in relation to published articles in PubMed. There are a couple of examples on the homepage of the app which help the user to get a feel for the resource and what it can do. It is helpful for first-time users to take a look at the given examples and experiment with the graphs that are generated.

PubMed Trends is a landscape-oriented application. New users should be aware as they will not be able to use the app by holding their phone/device in portrait style.

This orientation restriction is needed for proper displaying of generated visualizations without incessant scrolling or toggling to view an entire graph. There are some instances where the load time is a bit long and error messages or force close messages pop up. Users should take notice of these shortcomings.

User Interface

Navigating PubMed Trends is intuitive but its functionality is less than robust. Searching for a phrase or term(s) is easy enough while generating the graph is automatic.

Aesthetically, this all looks fine and in regard to navigation it is understandable. However, when it comes to changing the graph type or using Boolean operators to specify your search topic, the resource falls short. If users are looking, though, for a simple graphical representation of a MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) term or single word, the app functionality is sufficient and gets the job done.

Evidence to Support Use

The whole notion of big data and the data deluge is a contributing factor to developers creating apps and other web resources that help to manage and better analyze published medical literature [1]. The more research being published the higher the demand for snapshots or synopses of a given research topic.


  • Free


  • Simple design and navigation
  • Drop-down menu to choose different graphical representation types
  • The About and FAQ link transparency
  • Example searches on homescreen


  • Extensive load time (occasional)
  • Error and force close messages (occasional)
  • Orientation-only display format
  • Limited interactivity with generated graphs

Healthcare providers that may benefit from app

  • PubMed Trends is a helpful app for any biomedical researcher, professional,  or clinician conducting research.


  • Displays nicely but users are limited to how they can search or which graphs they can choose from the drop-down menu
  • App is good for simple analysis of a research topic, but not for advanced review or interoperability with results in PubMed
  • Users should note that the graphical trends generated in PubMed Trends only account for the past ten years
  • Example searches on the app homescreen are helpful for understanding how the app functions

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

Google Play Link

Rating (1-5 stars)

Rating: (1 to 5 stars) – 3.75
1. User Interface – 4
2. Multimedia usage – 2
3. Price – 5 (no fee)
4. Real world applicability – 4


1. Big data, bigger outcomes: Healthcare is embracing the big data movement, hoping to revolutionize HIM by distilling vast collections of data for specific analysis.J AHIMA. 2012 Oct;83(10):38-43. PMID: 23061351

Phone used for review: Samsung Fascinate (Galaxy S phone)

This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.