How to find journal articles

There are 2 main ways to find journal articles: 

1. If you already know the journal article you want and have the reference details, then you can search directly for that article through the library catalogue Articles search and link to the PDF file or use the WebBridge button to link to the article.  (The library catalogue Articles search is automatically searching many library databases). Or you can search for the journal on the Library Catalogue or the E-Journal Gateway then link to the journal web site and browse to the correct volume, issue and pages for your article.

2. If instead you don't know the reference details of a particular journal article but wish to search for articles on a topic, then it is best to search the library databases.

If you are looking for a basic explanation of what a journal article is and how to start a search, the publisher Taylor and Francis have made this short video.

Database Searching

  1. Find a database to search
  2. Devise a search strategy
  3. Find the full-text of the journal articles
  4. WebBridge
  5. What can I do if the articles I want are not available from the Library?
  6. What can I do if the books I want are not available from the Library?
  7. I can’t find any (or many) articles on my topic – help!

1. Find a database to search

A database is an electronic index to help you find journal articles on your topic of interest. Use the A-Z list of online resources to link to a database that covers the subject area you are interested in. If you don't know which databases to use, choose your subject from the list of Library Subject Guides. If you are not sure where to start the library catalogue article search may be useful - from one simple search box it allows you to search across many of the library’s electronic resources.

2. Devise a search strategy

Before you start your search read our successful search techniques advice. These hints and tips should help you retrieve relevant results quickly.

3. Find the full text of journal articles

The library databases often only provide the brief details and a summary of journal articles, or if they do provide the full text it may only be for some of the articles.

To find the full text of articles:

  • First check if the database provides the full-text by looking for a link to full text or PDF file of the article.
  • If the database uses WebBridge click on the WebBridge button to see if the full text of the article, or a printed copy is available from the Library.  WebBridge icon
  • If WebBridge is not available you should search the Library Catalogue to find out if we have access to the journal in paper or electronic format. Search the Catalogue using the title of the journal. For example, if your reference is:

Jones, A (2012) ‘A very interesting article’, Journal of interesting stuff, 45(3): 564-569

Search the catalogue for: Journal of interesting stuff


Remember to check in the catalogue whether we have the correct year and volume for the article you are looking for.

  • Remember we don’t have the full text of everything. No Library could provide all the journal articles – there are too many! But see the ArticleRequest Service information below - as we may be able to obtain the article from another library for you.


4. WebBridge

About WebBridge

How do I use WebBridge?

Simply look for the WebBridge button when searching in many of the databases offered by the library.

WebBridge icon

Whenever you see the Check WebBridge button, click on the button and a menu of options will open in a new browser window. You may then:

  • link to the full text of the article in an electronic journal, when the library has access;
  • search the library catalogue for the item.

How does WebBridge work?

WebBridge creates a shortcut link between a reference and the full-text. When you click on the WebBridge button, information about the article is transmitted to the WebBridge server. The server analyses the information, determines if and where the full text is available and creates the menu options.

Using WebBridge

While using WebBridge, you may encounter some problems or surprising results. Below are some situations you might come across.

Questions and Answers

Q Why do some links to full text not work?

There are many possible reasons why a full text link would return a "not found" or other error message. WebBridge might not able to construct a valid link because of incorrect or insufficient information is sent from the library database.

If the link to full text doesn't work or is absent, we may still have the item - see "I can't find an article using WebBridge - what do I do next?"

Q There is no full text link in the menu. Does that mean the article is not available?

A There are a number of reasons why there might not be a full text link. So it is always worth checking the library catalogue separately if you have had no luck with WebBridge.  Use the link to the library catalogue in the WebBridge window to double check if the library has a copy in print or electronic format.

See also "I can't find an article using WebBridge - what do I do next?"

Q Sometimes the full text link will take me to the article, but other times only to the journal. Why?

WebBridge gets you as close as it can to the full text of the article. However, how close it can get depends on the journal's web site. When this happens, refer to the reference details in WebBridge, then on the journal site browse the issues until you reach the full text of the article.

Q Why are there multiple links to full text?

There is overlap among the library's electronic journal collections and databases. That's why sometimes you will find that the full text is available from more than one source.

Q I can't find an article using WebBridge - what do I do next?

If you can't find a journal article, book chapter or book via WebBridge, there are number of steps to try next:

  • The library may still have a copy of the article. Refer back to the reference details in WebBridge and then check the library catalogue for the title of the journal or title of the book.


Q How can I stop the WebBridge window getting blocked by my pop-up blocker?

When you use WebBridge it opens a new pop-up window in your web browser. Some software automatically blocks pop-up windows (this is to stop many annoying adverts that appear this way). You may need to temporarily disable the pop-up blocker so that the WebBridge window can open.

To switch off the Internet Explorer pop-up blocker:

  1. At the top of the screen choose the Internet Explorer Tools menu, select Pop-up Blocker then Turn Off Pop-up Blocker
  2. Once you've finished using WebBridge you should switch the Pop-up Blocker back on again

Alternatively to allow pop-ups for a particular site you need to add that site to a list:

  1. From the 'Tools' menu select Pop-up Blocker then Pop-up Blocker Settings...
  2. In the Pop-up Blocker Settings dialog box type the web address in the Address of the Web site to allow text box e.g. for ScienceDirect or for WebBridge type
  3. Click Add then Close


5. What can do I do if the articles I want are not available in the Library?



Use ArticleRequest


ArticleRequest is a free service for students and staff to obtain journal articles that are not held electronically by Stirling University Library. Requests are sent to an international consortium of libraries that shares articles. If available, the article is emailed to you.


Make a request directly in ArticleRequest

  • First check in Stirling’s Library Catalogue that the journal article you need is not available electronically in our Library. If not available:
  • Then submit a request to ArticleRequest.
  • Choose 'University of Stirling', then enter your name and the number above the barcode on your Student/Staff ID card.

  • Fill in as many details about the article as you know (this will speed up the processing).
  • If the article is available via ArticleRequest you will receive an email with a link directly to the article PDF.
  • The link only remains active for 30 days so save your article straight away.

Your requests:

  • You can request articles that we only hold in print format or at another campus.
  • Typically 90% of requests arrive within 24 hours.
  • If an article is not available via ArticleRequest the library will automatically send your request onto the Document Delivery Service

If you wish, before you make a request, you can check if the item will be available by searching the ArticleReach Catalogue. If it is available then choose 'Request Article' in the ArticleReach catalogue.



Make a request in WebBridge to ArticleRequest

When using the Check WebBridge button in Library databases WebBridge icon

– if no electronic version of the article is found at our Library, then the ArticleRequest link will appear in the WebBridge window.

  • First use the WebBridge links to Stirling’s Library Catalogue to check the article is not in our Library. If not available:
  • Then click the ‘Request article’ link.
  • Choose 'University of Stirling', then enter your name and the number above the barcode on your Student/Staff ID card.
  • The details WebBridge knows will automatically be added to the request form – add any other details you know.

If you have any questions about ArticleRequest, email

What can I do if the books I want are not available from the Library?

If the book you want isn't available in Stirling's Library:


Visit Other Libraries


Alternatively, you may be able to find the book or journal you require in another library.

The SALSER catalogue gives details of journals held in university libraries across Scotland and the SUNCAT catalogue gives details of journals held in libraries throughout the UK (see SUNCAT guides).

You can also check other libraries catalogues for books. 

See more information about using / visiting other university libraries.Other Libraries


6. I can’t find any (or many) articles on my topic – help!

When you find it difficult to find many articles:

  • Try a different library database - choose your subject from the list of Library Subject Guides to see a list of databases for your subject.
  • Try the library catalogue article search - it searches a large number of databases all at once, this can give you new ideas for which database to use next
  • Think about the search strategy you are using - don't just type the title of your essay. Choose only the main keywords. Think about other words that describe the topic and use those as well.
  • See our Successful Search Techniques page - to help you with your search strategy
  • Think about using other types of information - as well as journal articles, what about books, newspaper articles, encyclopaedias? Use the Library Guides by Subject to help you find other types of information.
  • You might have a very difficult topic - so contact us - see Ask a Librarian.



If you have any questions or comments about any of these services please contact us.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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