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EGIS (Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society): Journal Articles

Finding journal articles

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:

What does a journal reference look like?

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, for advanced searching, go to:


  • Discovery can be a useful starting point for research, and is THE resource if you want to check if something is part of our collections.
  • If you are off-campus, you should sign-in with your Heriot-Watt username (in the format abc123) and password to make sure you get the full list of results.
  • It does not search all Heriot-Watt resources, therefore you may need to use resources in addition to Discovery.

Literature searching for your dissertation/thesis:

  • By default, the search results are set to show only those we have full-text access to.  If you want to find the most relevant results, you should select the 'search outside Heriot-Watt' option.
  • If you are conducting a more systematic or advanced literature search, you should take advantage of the features of our more specialist databases.

See also:

Literature searching

For help with literature searching see:

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 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:

  • Table of Contents (TOCS) Alerts
    • TOCs from newly published journal issues
  • Search / author 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

Should you require advice on this, please get in touch.

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 provide access to the article I need...

Finding Journal Articles (Scopus, Web of Science, ProQuest)

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:

EGIS resources by subject

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.

Full list of EGIS databases:
Databases by subject/research area:

**these lists are currently being updated and may not yet have all the relevant resources listed **

Full list of all databases:

Help! Which resources should I use?

Please get in touch if you have any questions/need advice on resources.

EGIS Academic Librarian (Edinburgh Campus and Distance Learners)

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Sarah Kelly
Schedule An Appointment
If you wish to discuss: finding information, literature/systematic searching, citing and referencing, EndNote, or any other Library resource/service, please 'Email Me' or 'Schedule an Appointment' using the buttons above.

I am based at the Edinburgh Campus.
You can choose an 'In Person (Edinburgh Campus Library)' or an 'Online (Teams)' appointment.

If you can't find a suitable appointment time, please email me.

What's the difference between PubMed, MEDLINE and PubMed Central?

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

PubMed Central
Full-text repository for research outputs from National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funding