A step-by-step tutorial/help guide for using ScienceDirect with special focus on its search alert capabilities.

Using ScienceDirect

  • ScienceDirect is primarily used to obtain full text online articles. This is a free service to registered UNT clientele. Articles can be printed or downloaded and printed later
  • Since ScienceDirect’s search capabilities include access to Medline, an extensive database focused on the life and medical sciences, it is also useful to use to find articles. However, a database with a wider range of journal titles such as Applied Science and Technology Abstracts or specialized databases including SciFinder Scholar and Ceramic Abstracts provide greater coverage of the literature

Accessing ScienceDirect

  • From the Library’s home page, click on Databases from the left hand side navigation bar or type SciencDirect into the search bar. You can also use the Go Directly To drop down list and scroll to ScienceDirect.

Creating a Profile (not mandatory, but helpful)

  • Establishing a personal profile with ScienceDirect provides access to additional features of the service but is not mandatory. If you don’t want to do this, skip this section.
  • On ScienceDirect’s home page, click on the link “Not Registered?” at the top right of the screen. Make sure you accessed ScienceDirect from the UNT Libraries' home page
  • Type in the required information, assign yourself a password and press Submit. The next screen will allow you to log in

Finding Known Articles

  • If you have an article citation and want to know if ScienceDirect carries the journal, do a search on the full name of the journal/book title part of the search area at the top middle of the screen. You can also browse for titles using the alphabetical list at the top left of the screen.
  • NOTE: only issues with a green icon are available in full text!!!!!!
  • Choose the relevant issue and find the necessary pages
  • If the article is available from ScienceDirect, you will see a SummaryPlus link (leads you to the abstract), an Full Text + Links (provides the html form of the article for downloading or printing) and/or a PDF link which opens up Adobe Acrobat for printing or downloading the article
  • If the citation just provides a SummaryPlus or Abstract link, it is not available through ScienceDirect. In this case, you need to perform a Title and Journal Title search of the UNT Library’s catalog for the name of the journal. If the library subscribes to the journal, you can photocopy the article
  •  If the item is not available via either method above, use Interlibrary Loan which will provide you with a photocopy of the article within a week or so. From the Library’s home page, choose Library Services on the right hand of the page, then Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery from the middle of the right side of the next screen.
  • For additional hints on finding journal articles, please call the Science Reference Desk at 565-4745 or contact a librarian via the Ask Us page.

Searching ScienceDirect (general information)

  • From ScienceDirect’s home page, login at the top right if you have a profile. The login screen requires you to enter your previously established login name and password
  • There is a Quick Search box at the top left of the screen (under ScienceDirect’s menu bar) where you can do “quick and dirty” searches. The within option allows you to specify all sources or all journals. This method may yield results but for BEST results, use the more detailed search methods as described below
  • Click on the Search button from the menu at the top of the screen
  • There are four search options: All Sources, Journals, Books, Abstract Databases and Scirus. All Sources is the best option. Journals limits the search only to the journals available through ScienceDirect, Abstract Databases limits the search to Medline and Scirus is useful for searching the web for scientific information
  • All Sources is the default option. On the right hand side, there are options to search using the Basic or Advanced features. The Advanced interface requires a higher level of search skills. Basic offers a more user-friendly search mechanism and should provide equal results
  • You can enter search terms in the boxes, use the connectors and, or, and not from the drop down menu to combine terms. Search terms can be limited to specific fields using the pull down menu to the right of the box. The default is set to search words in abstracts, titles, and keywords
  • Use a ! to find alternate endings of words – for example electr! will search for variant endings of electr such as electronic, electrical. An * can be used to “replace” letters to find variant spellings of words – for example, beilst**n will look for both beilstein and beilstien.
  • Use W/n to find words within a specific (n) number of words. For example, colloid W/10 suspension will look for colloid within 10 words of suspension. This is an excellent means to make your search more specific – especially useful if you are receiving too many results.
  • ScienceDirect automatically looks for simple plurals of words. For example, typing person will also look for persons.
  • You can use the Subject menu to limit your search to specific subject groupings and can use the Dates option to narrow your search to desired time frames

Search Example (subject)

  • Keep the All Sources default and type electron W/10 lattice in the first search box with title, subject, keywords chosen. This will find any occurrences of electron(s) within 10 words of lattice(s). Ensure the connector is and
  • Type dimension! in the second search box. Any occurrences of dimension, dimensional, dimensions etc will be found. Change the within option to title to force the dimension results to appear in the title. Press the search button
  • This will look for articles that have electron(s) within 10 words of lattice(s) and some form of dimension (such as dimension or dimensional)
  • Uncheck the box next to Abstract Database to stop ScienceDirect from searching Medline (unless you want it to).
  • You can also use the date searching features to expand or narrow your search by date of publication
  • The next screen will show the records

Printing/Downloading Results

  • By clicking in the box to the left of the records, you can mark them for downloading to a bibliographic manager (Reference Manager, End Notes etc.) or create a subset for printing/downloading
  • Mark the desired records
  • Click on the display checked docs link located above the first citation (you do not need to mark any records to download or print if you want all of the records)
  • This will take you to the next screen which will display the results
  • You can use the Netscape or Explorer File/Print or File/Save buttons to print or save the results
  • If you want to export the citations to a bibliographic manager, click on the Export Citations tab
  • The next screen gives you options to select which citations to export, to export the citation or the citation and abstract (drop down menu) and the file format (the default is for bibliographic managers but there is also an ASCII option)
  • Click export when finished with the options

Combining Searches/Search History (personal login needed)

  • Turn on Search History by clicking on the link in the middle bottom of the Search Screen
  • Perform your searches. Searches will be shown at the bottom of the main search screen
  • Using Search History allows you to re-run, edit or delete searches and to combine searches
  • Combining searches is a great way to manipulate more complicated searches. To combine searches, click in the box to the left of the search and choose Combine with AND (narrows the search) or Combine with OR (broadens the search)
  • Similar to individual searches, you can save the search history and recall it at a later date
  • Search history can also be printed by clicking on the Printable History link

Saving and Running Searches (requires personal login)

  • Click on the Save Search link from the results page to have ScienceDirect save your search
  • The next time you access ScienceDirect, choose the recall search button at the bottom right of the Search Screen. This will bring up a list of your saved searches
  • You can Retrieve New Articles Only (collects articles published after your previous log on), Retrieve All Articles (search all articles), Modify Search, or Delete (removes search)

Search Alerts, Citation Alerts and Cited By (personal login needed)

  • Click on the Save as an E-mail Alert link in the middle of the top of the Results Screen to have ScienceDirect e-mail you weekly reports of new articles published that match your search
  • While viewing an article on a topic that you are interested in, click on the Save as Citation Alert link from the right side of the screen near the top (ONLY available when viewing the SummaryPlus or Journal (html form)). When a new article is published that cites the original article, you will receive an e-mail alert
  • You can see if there are any articles in the ScienceDirect database that cite the current article by clicking on the Cited By link

New Issues Alerts  (personal login needed)

  • ScienceDirect will send you a weekly e-mail to let you know that a new issue of relevant journals are available with the table of contents included
  • Click on the Publications tab at the top left of the screen. This lets you search for journals that you are interested in using the search box to the right of the screen or the alphabetical list
  • Once you find your desired journal, click on the title. This will bring up a new screen which lists available issues on the left and has a box on the right. Click next to Alert me when new Journal Issues are available.
  • When finished, choose the Submit button

Managing Alerts and Profile (personal profile needed)

  • Choose the My Alerts tab at the top of the screen
  • Your Search Alerts, New Issue Alerts and Citation Alerts will be displayed
  • You can delete or modify alerts
  •  Click on the My Profile tab at the top of the screen to access your personal details, allow you to change your passwords and personal journal lists etc.


c. Beth Thomsett-Scott January 14, 2016.