To search for articles, you can use Discovery or individual databases. There are many databases that allow you to find journal articles - some are publisher databases, which will find only articles from that publisher (e.g. ScienceDirect/Elsevier, Sage, ASCE etc), other resources allow you to cross-search many publishers (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Discovery, ProQuest).
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 dissertations, theses and research
If you are looking to undertake a more thorough and systematic review of the literature, then you should search proper Abstracting & Indexing Databases (e.g. Scopus. Web of Science, ProQuest databases). This will help ensure a more comprehensive literature search and you can take advantage of the database functionality, such as advanced searching, saving searches and setting up alerts. Should you require advice on this, please get in touch.
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.
You access Heriot-Watt subscription databases with your Heriot-Watt username/password. You can also register with these resources to set up a personal account. Once registered you can save your searches and set up the following types of alert:
Should you require advice on this, please get in touch.
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, for advanced searching, go to:
Literature searching for your dissertation/thesis:
A journal article will look similar to this:
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 Processes" Nilsson]
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:
When off-campus, you will be prompted for your Heriot-Watt username/password. For help with usernames/passwords, see:
There are a number of ways of getting hold of books, chapters or articles we don't have in stock see:
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:
If you want to limit your search to online online articles: