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Chemistry Research

tips on searching databases, finding journals from citations, and using Interlibrary Loan services

Science Direct

Science Direct is a large database for the physical, life, and social sciences. It indexes the publications of Elsevier, one of the largest scientific publishers in the world. We have full-text access to about 1000 of the journals in the database (but to none of the books). Use the ScienceDirect search engine if 1) you find it produces better results for your topic, or 2) you like it better than Academic Search Complete.

  • NOTE that many articles in Science Direct will show up in Academic Search Complete. For journals that we have full-text access to, linking from ASC is sometimes rather buggy, however. Please ask a Librarian for assistance if you have difficulty accessing any articles. 

We recommend that you use Science Direct's Advanced Search function (which is not the default search screen). Here's how you find it:

Advanced search

When you get to the Advanced Search screen, here are some limiting features that we recommend:

Science Direct

Below is a portion of a search results list. Pay particular attention to the wording next to the PDF symbol PDF. If it just says "PDF" and gives a file size, that means that you have access to the full text of the article. Click on "PDF" to display the article. If you didn't limit to "Subscribed publications," some citations will say "Purchase PDF," which means that our Library does not have full-text access to that journal or book. Don't feel that you have to purchase a copy through ScienceDirect! Use our Interlibrary Loan service to get copies (or borrow books) for a much, much lower price.

results list

To the left of the results list you'll find some nice features for further limiting your search results. You can check one of their topic boxes to narrow the results. Limitation by journal title or year of publication is also available.

SciDirect filters

Here's some more information about limiting, refining, and expanding your searches.

limiting tips

  • The reason we recommend un-checking the "Books" box is that our Library does not have access to books through Science Direct. However, if you find books here, you can always borrow them through Interlibrary Loan
  • Checking the "Subscribed publications" box will retrieve only articles for which the full-text will be attached to the citation in the Science Direct results list.
  • You should be able to find "Open Access" articles, too, but the mechanisms for doing so are not standardized and might be rather cumbersome. But, particularly in the medical field, open access articles are becoming more prevalent. Learn more about this new publishing model here. Ask a Librarian if you have difficulty finding Open Access journal articles.
  • In some cases, it might be wise to limit your search to a specific subject area or areas. When terminology can be used differently by different disciplines, this can help you avoid unwanted subjects in your search results.


If you click on the title of an article in your results list, you'll be shown an abstract screen, which has some useful features (but is missing others!). On the left there is an outline, with thumbnails of images from the article. This feature, as well as the highlights and abstract in the middle of the page, can help you decide if the article is one that will be useful for your research. Click on "Download PDF" and you will see the entire article. NOTE on the right you will see "Citing and recommended articles." This is not a citation-generating feature, but refers to articles which have cited the main article. ScienceDirect does not have a citation generator.

Interlibrary Loan

note iconRemember that if we don't have access to a journal, you can request an article copy on Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

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