Article discovery in more depth

The Discovery Service works a lot like Google, except it only searches high quality academic content, can be told to only find content that you can read in full online, and has a treasure trove of features and tools to help you pinpoint precisely what you need to find. You can most easily find the Discovery Service by clicking on the large blue “Click here to search library resources” button on the library homepage: it is the first search box that appears on the library search page, just above the library catalogue search and website search boxes.

Who should use the Discovery Service?

The Discovery Service is the recommended starting point for most clients, except anyone studying Design or Law! If you are in the CCI Faculty or are studying Law, you should go straight to your subject pages and use the specialised resources you find there for anything more than searching the library catalogue. The reasons for this are complicated and vary by subject, but trust me when I say that (only) for these subjects, the Discovery Service is best avoided.

How should I use the Discovery Service?

Being librarians, we tend to recommend that everyone click the “Advanced search” link beneath the big obvious search box you find on any Discovery Search page. All this link does is bring to the fore all the search options that appear on the left side of every search results page so you can specify that you just want to see peer reviewed content (academic journal articles that have been scrutinised and their reliability assured by fellow experts in the field), that are immediately available online, and that were published recently – just specify the date range (or, on the results screen, drag the date slider limiters to the first and last dates) for which you want to see publications in your search results.

This video shows you how to run a simple search using the Discovery Service.

(If you are working off campus but are unable to use the VPN, please see this off-campus video guide to the Discovery Service instead.)

Whichever way you go about searching, there are a few tried and tested ways to get more or fewer results.

Too many results?

Add more search terms, make your search terms more specific, or use the drop-down menus to the right of each search box on the search results screen to change where you want your different search terms to appear from “everywhere” to “abstract” (the short description of the article) or “title” (guaranteeing far fewer articles, but that they will all mention the terms you are looking for in their article titles!).

Too few results?

Change your search terms, remove search terms that are not absolutely necessary, extend your date range if it is very narrow, and if all else fails, consider searching a different eresource/database. Some information is very specialised and while the Discovery Service attempts to provide a single search for all your research needs, for more in-depth research it pays to visit your Subject pages and find the right specialist database for your search topic.

All feeling a bit too much?

Don’t worry. Doing anything new for the first time can be frightening and confusing, but trust me when I say that after running a few successful searches through the Discovery Service, you will begin to look upon it as an old and trusted friend. The best bit is that most of our other databases/eresources look and work pretty much the same way. I sometimes have to check the database name at the top of the screen to remind myself which one I am searching!

This second video shows the advanced tools of the Discovery Service in action, which will hopefully make much more sense than just reading about them.

If in doubt, ask a librarian

You can pop in or chat to us online for advice on developing your searches and choosing the best databases to look in. We can usually find enough relevant information to satisfy most clients within a few minutes, or at least show them how to get going and find what they need simply and efficiently. However, should your search prove so challenging that our friendly enquiries team struggles to help, we will refer your query to your Faculty Librarian, who is the ultimate local expert in the information resources for their subject, and who will be able to help. Faculty Librarians offer one to one and small group tutorials, usually over video chat, where they can demonstrate eresources and how to develop search strategies to uncover the most obscure research findings and market/industry data.

Looking for more?

Well, aren’t you keen! Your Subject pages will introduce you to many more databases and other subject specific resources that are often much more powerful and useful than the Discovery Service for finding certain types of subject specific information. Take some time to explore your subject page(s) and read through the brief descriptions of the different databases available, so that you know what is available next time you have an assignment.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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