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Subject guides

Journals: Searching beyond the Library

Introduction to searching beyond the Library

When working on a specialist research topic or literature review, you may want to widen your search beyond the journals in the University of Huddersfield Library's collection.

You can do this using Summon, or through specialist electronic journal databases. This page introduces how to do this. More information can be found on your Library Subject Guide.

How to search beyond the UoH Library

Widening your search beyond the University of Huddersfield Library

When working on a specialist research topic or literature review, you may want to widen your search beyond the journals available in the Library's collection.

Before you begin, it is helpful to understand the difference between full-text and indexed articles


What is a full text article?

A full text article is an article for which the entire text, tables and figures are available for you to read.

Full text articles can often be identified by a PDF Full Text iconPDF full text icon or a HTML Full Text link. Clicking on the icon or link opens the full text version.

A key difference between searching using Summon and either using an electronic database or the Summon 'beyond your Library' optionis that Summon by default will only display articles which are available for you to read in full text. Wider searches may also offer you the abstracts and details of indexed articles which are not available to read in full.


What is an indexed article?

Some databases also find indexed or abstract-only articles, not available in full text.  You may be able to view the title, author, reference details and abstract (a brief summary of the article), but the main body of the article is not available for you to read.

Sometimes the database will display a Check for Full Text link on an indexed-only article, which allows you to check if it is available from another Library source:

Screenshot of a database search result with the Check for Full Text option highlighted


If a button like this is not available, the Library may still be able to provide instant access to the article via another route: try searching for the journal title in the Journal Search, or searching for the article title in Summon.

If the article is not available through any Library source, but essential to your work, you might want to request it as an inter-library loan.

What are electronic databases, and why use them?

Like Summon, electronic databases allow you to search for journal articles.  However, these specialist resources often focus on a particular subject area or discipline (e.g. ScienceDirect). They also allow you to perform more complex and precise searches, and set up email alerts to notify you of new articles on a topic.  The way information is described by keywords and 'subject headings' is standardised throughout, which can make it easier to find related information on a topic. 

Databases also allow you to discover information which is not available through Summon, including a wider range of articles, conference papers, reports and other useful documents.  This is important when conducting a systematic literature review, or working on a highly specialised research topic.  Some articles on databases will not be available to read in full-text, but if essential, you can request an article as an inter-library loan.

How do I access electronic databases?

Your Library Subject Guide contains information about and access to relevant databases for your subject.  You can browse all databases using our complete A-Z list of electronic resources.


What does an electronic database look like?

Each database has a slightly different interface. You can usually search by different criteria, including keyword, words in the article title, or author. You can also use Boolean operators (e.g. AND/OR/NOT) to link keywords and build more complex searches. You can filter the results of your search by specific criteria, for example to include only articles within a specific date range, from peer-reviewed journals, or from a particular country.

Your Library Subject Guide contains more information and videos explaining how to use specific databases.

Below is one example of how search results might be displayed in an electronic database (this example is a database called Scopus).


Screenshot of the Scopus database results page

Using Summon to search beyond the Library

By default, Summon only searches for full text journal articles to which the Library subscribes.  

However, you can instruct Summon to widen the search beyond these.  Select the box in the filter pane labelled Add results beyond your library's collection to instruct Summon to include items not currently available in full-text in the Library collection.

Screenshot of the Summon filter pane, with the option to 'add results beyond your library's collection' select.

Note that if you use this feature, you may not be able to read the full text of all the articles listed immediately.  If you would like to access an article which is not available in the Library's collection, but that is essential to your work, you can request it as an inter-library loan.

How do I request to read an article which is not already available in full text?

If you find an article through an electronic database or Summon which is not available in full text, and it is essential to your work, you can request that we order it for you as an inter-library loan There is usually no charge for this service, but there is a waiting time, as the article must be sourced from an external supplier.

For more information on this service please see the inter-library loans webpage.


Most electronic databases have their own help pages with how-to instructions and videos. Look for a Help or question mark ? icon whilst logged in.

For more help with journals, ask your librarians by emailing