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. See:
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:
For help with literature searching see:
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.
When off-campus, you will be prompted for your Heriot-Watt username/password. For help with usernames/passwords, see:
Discovery will probably be sufficient to help you find some literature for your coursework assignments. However, if you wish to do a more advanced or systematic literature search (e.g. for dissertation, thesis or research), then there are better resources for this than Discovery.
We provide access to two of the biggest abstracting and indexing databases: Scopus and Web of Science. These allow you to cross search multiple publishers and have useful advanced searching and alert features. If you are doing a systematic review, it is very likely you will want to use these databases.
We also provide access to a large platform called ProQuest, which can be really useful if you are likely to want to find grey literature (literature not published in journal or conference proceedings). When searching ProQuest, you are searching lots of smaller databases. If you are doing a systematic review, you will likely want your search to be replicable, so may need to search the individual databases, rather than the whole platform - please get in touch for further information.
Links to these resources are given below:
Below are lists of EGIS resources by subject, to help you find journal articles, but also other types of information.
The key resources have 'Best Bets!' listed at the top. These are are our two largest abstracting and indexing databases (Scopus and Web of Science) and our two largest platforms (Discovery and ProQuest), plus other recommendations for your subject area.
Note: the 'best bets' for you will be dependent on your area of research - take a look at the full list, or get in touch if you have any questions.
**these lists are currently being updated and may not yet have all the relevant resources listed **
Please get in touch if you have any questions/need advice on resources.
All produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) (US)
PubMed (free access)
28 million+ citations to journal articles, books, chapters
Includes all MEDLINE content (88%) + MEDLINE not yet indexed (4%) + items out of MEDLINE scope (8%)
Non MEDLINE records taken from publisher
Not necessarily full-text
More selective, sub-set of PubMed
Records created by Medline indexers, assigned MESH headings (Medical Subject Headings)
If you search using MESH headings, you will only find MEDLINE articles
Not a full-text database
Full-text repository for research outputs from National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funding