Finding journals and journal articles using NELSON

FAQ: How can I use NELSON to find journals and journal articles?

While researchers are often best served by accessing Library and Learning Services’ electronic journal collections directly (via our A-Z list), our research discovery tool NELSON can be a quick and convenient way to find articles and journals online. Read on for a short guide.

Basic search

To perform a basic journal article search from the NELSON home page, just change the Everything drop-down next to the Search button to Journal Articles and enter your search term. NELSON will search article titles, abstracts, authors and other metadata fields for your term:

NELSON advanced search link

NELSON journal article search

Advanced search

You can also use NELSON’s advanced search features to limit your results to journal articles, and set various other search parameters. Start by selecting Advanced Search from the home page – this will take you to the advanced search form, where you can build your search query in the left-hand boxes and set the Search Scope drop-down on the right to Journal Articles:

NELSON advanced journals search

When you use advanced search the form will stay open at the top of the screen, allowing you to refine your results.

Using facets

Another route to journal articles is to run a standard NELSON search and use the facets to the left of the search results to focus on specific results:

NELSON facets

Facets are simply links you can click to apply various filters to your results. The options given are dynamically generated from (and therefore relevant to) the search results.

For journal articles you can either select the Articles Resource Type facet under the Refine My Results menu:

NELSON Refine My Results example

– or use the Show only menu to limit the results to Peer-reviewed Journals (which will usually be a slightly smaller selection, excluding unrefereed papers):

NELSON Show Only menu

For all facets, the number after the link shows how many results will be returned when the facet is applied.

You can combine either of the above with any of the other facets, such as Author, Publication Date and Journal Title, making facets a fast and efficient way to refine your search.

Facets you’ve applied appear above the search results – use the x next to a facet to remove it and broaden your search:

NELSON remove facet control

Beyond the library

By default, NELSON will only show results where university staff and students have access to the full text of an article physically (on the library shelves) or online (either freely or via single sign-on) – for online articles, the View Online link will take you to the full text:

NELSON full text link example

At the time of writing full text access includes around 25,000 journals, but you can broaden the search beyond the university’s resources by ticking Search Beyond My Library above the facet list:

NELSON expand results control

Articles that cannot be viewed online will be flagged with a notice in red text:

NELSON no full text notice

You may be able to request such articles via interlibrary loan.

Finding journals

The methods above focus on finding journal articles, but you can also use NELSON to search journal titles using the advanced search feature. The following screenshot shows a search for journals with biodiversity in the title:

NELSON journal title search

As with article searches, NELSON will default to searching for journals you can access in the library or online. Clicking the Find It tab beneath a journal title will show library holdings and access links:

NELSON Find It example

If you don’t see the Find It tab, you can use the Details tab and click Check record in Main Catalogue to search the library catalogue for physical holdings:

NELSON check catalogue example

NELSON journal available example


While NELSON works well as a flexible all-in-one service for quick access to the library’s electronic holdings, direct access to journals databases is the most comprehensive search strategy for researchers.

The Journals and Indexes A-Z list provides details and direct links for over 100 databases, where you can often find detailed and dedicated search tools, such as the ability to search the full text of articles.

You can also use the library’s Find My Reference tool for advanced journal title and article searches, particularly if you have specific metadata such as a DOI (Digital Object Identifier)- while you can search for DOIs and journal ISSNs on NELSON, Find My Reference is a more focused and robust solution.

More about NELSON

Posted on October 8, 2013, in Library and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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