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Searching for journal articles on a topic area

Bibliographic databases

You can search for journal articles on specific topic areas using bibliographic databases. These are subject-based collections of references to published research from a range of different publishers. They usually contain references to journal articles, including a summary or abstract of the full article; but can also include other material (e.g. conference papers and theses). Some databases cover a very specific subject area whilst others are more general. Additionally, some publishers provide databases for their own content.

Usefulness of bibliographic databases

There are many advantages to using bibliographic databases
  • Enable you to search many different journal titles in one go, saving you time
  • Are regularly updated, enabling you to find journal articles on current research
  • Can be searched using keywords or structured search strategies, enabling you to find relevant articles in your subject area (see Search skills for more information)
  • Allow you to set limits (e.g. publication years, language) to tailor searches to your specific needs 
  • Can provide access to the full text of an article if the University has an electronic subscription to the relevant journal 


Accessing bibliographic databases

Using NUsearch

NUsearch provides access to quality electronic resources, including bibliographic databases, ejournals, ebooks and websites. Many resources are arranged in subject categories, guiding you to the best resources for your subject area.

Accessing NUsearch

NUsearch can be accessed in the UKChina and Malaysia.

Details of accessing NUsearch
  • Sign in using your University Computer username and password - this will give you access to the full functionality of NUsearch
  • To view a list of relevant resources in your subject area click Databases on the right hand side, then select from the options in the Category and Sub-category boxes  


Interpreting references found on bibliographic databases

For each reference found on a bibliographic databases, sufficient information is provided for you to assess the importance and relevance of each article.

View an example of a bibliographic reference

Accessing the full-text of articles from bibliographic databases

There are several ways to access the full text of a journal article found on a bibliographic database. The options depend on whether the University subscribes to the print and/or electronic version of a journal.

Bibliographic databases include far more journals (both print and electronic) than the University subscribes to, so not all articles you find are available in full text. For more information see Finding resources elsewhere.

Various options will be displayed against references found on a bibliographic database. You may see any of the following:

1. Full Text, PDF or HTML links - these will take you straight to the full electronic version of an article

2. An SFX link or the  sfx button  button - these will open an SFX box

The SFX box tells you:
  • Whether an article is available electronically - a link is provided to the site(s) which allow access
  • Whether an article is available in print in one of the University libraries - a link is provided to the Library Online Catalogue to find the exact location


More about SFX

Roll your mouse over the screen shot for more information about the SFX box.

See further instructions:

The boxes beneath the full-text option(s) in the SFX box are not automatically filled in with the reference details of the article.

  • Click on the Go button to connect to the journal
  • Use the year, volume, issue and page numbers from the bibliographic reference to navigate to the the full-text of the article
  • Please note that students in China and Malaysia may sometimes be taken to UK holdings.  Please ask a member of staff if this happens.


Accessing the full-text of articles from off-campus

You will be asked to enter your University Computer username and password when accessing full-text journal rticles from off-campus.

For more information see Logging on to eResources.

Obtaining articles which are not available at the University

Articles which are not available at the University, either in print or electronically, can be requested through the Interlibrary Loans service.

Using the eLibrary Gateway

Using NUsearch




Further reading


  • Using Library Lending Services
  • Infocasts
  • Online research & information skills on Moodle: Malaysia

Reading and interpreting sources and data


People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


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