Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Independent Distance Learners (IDLs): Journal Articles

A guide to Information Services support for HWU IDLs

Finding journal articles

To search for articles, you can use Discovery or individual databases.  There are many databases that allow us to find journal articles - some are publisher databases, which allow us to find only articles from that publisher (e.g. ScienceDirect/Elsevier, Sage, ASCE etc), other databases allow us to cross-search many publishers (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Discovery).

For undergraduate level and if you are trying to find something specific

Generally speaking, the best resource for you to start with is Discovery. This allows you to cross-search lots of different online publishers/databases (including ICE, ASCE, Sage, Elsevier (ScienceDirect), ProQuest…) as well as print library collections, and allows you to find books/eBooks, journal articles, news articles, conference papers etc, that match the keywords you enter into the search box.

For more advanced research

For example at MSc/PhD/publication level, you may wish to search proper Abstracting & Indexing Databases (e.g. Scopus and Web of Science) to ensure a thorough literature review and to take advantage of the advanced functionality, such as advanced searching, saving searches and setting up alerts.  Should you require advice on this, please get in touch.

Understanding journal articles

The Royal Society of Chemistry have written a short PDF guide to reading journal articles, covering their structure and content, peer review, and reading critically.  The guide is aimed at undergraduate students: you will find it useful if you are new to using journal articles in your studies.

Note: although written by RSC, this is a useful overview for all subject areas.

Keeping up-to-date

You can set up the following types of alert:

  • Table of Contents (TOCS) Alerts
    • TOCs from newly published journal issues
  • Search alerts
    • New articles and other sources that match your search criteria
  • Citation alerts
    • When a journal article or conference paper references a paper you have specified as being of interest

Finding Journal Articles (Discovery)

Discovery searches across many of the Library's databases, full-text collections and book catalogue.  You can enter search terms/keywords in the search box below:

or, go to:

Remember: Discovery can be a useful starting point for research, but does not include results from some Heriot-Watt resources.  You might find more relevant results using a specialist database.

Using Discovery to search for...

A journal article will look similar to this:

  • Nilsson, K. L. (2007) 'Managing Complex Spatial Planning Processes', Planning Theory & Practice, 8(4), pp. 431-447.

If you are looking for something specific, then it's quickest to put your words in “quote marks”, e.g., using the above journal article as an example, you would search for:

["Managing Complex Spatial Planning ProcessesNilsson]

Further advice on understanding references is given here:

If you are looking for general results on a topic, then just enter the most appropriate keywords. Think carefully about your keywords - the words you use, and how you combine them, will determine how successful your search results are.  See also:

  • keywords/literature searching tab

Off-campus access

When off-campus, you will be prompted for your Heriot-Watt username/password.  For help with usernames/passwords, see:

You don't have the journal article I need, or it is only available in print

There are a number of ways of getting hold of books we don't have in stock, or only have in print, see:

Limiting your Discovery search to only journals articles

Discovery  cross searches many different types of resources.  Use the limiters on the left hand side of the screen to narrow your results.

To limit your results to only articles:

  • Under 'Resource Type', select 'Articles':

If you want to limit your search to online online articles:

  • Under 'Show Only', select 'Full Text Online'

Recent Heriot-Watt Research Output

Loading ...