Skip to Main Content

Using the Library's Databases

Searching ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect provides access to journals and articles on:

  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social and Behavioural Sciences

Use the "step" tabs above to learn how to find ScienceDirect on the library's website and how to search it effectively for your research topics.

Go to the library's Journal Databases by Subject page. Here you'll find sections for all the areas of study at Ambrose. Scroll to the bottom and click the Natural Sciences tab to open that section, then click the ScienceDirect link:

List of databases for the Natural Sciences, highlighting ScienceDirect.

Note: You will be prompted to login with your Ambrose email and password through OpenAthens.


This is what the database will look like when you arrive. 

Landing page for ScienceDirect showing a basic search.

You can begin entering your search terms in the search boxes available.

Often you will be entering keywords into the box labeled "Find articles with these terms". You can add additional information about the journal or book title, or author(s) but this is not necessary to start your search process.

This example will use the phrase "climate change". You can see that there are quotation marks ( " ) around this phrase, and this is to ensure that these words are searched in this exact order; if there weren't quotation marks around this phrase, the database would look for any appearance of these words, not necessarily in this exact order.

Basic search for the phrase "climate change" in ScienceDirect.

There is also the option to do an "Advanced search". If you click to this option from the right-hand side of the basic search, there will be many more fields available to search. These will be most helpful if you are searching for a specific item. You can enter information into as many or as few of the boxes as you would like.

Advanced search fields in ScienceDirect.


This search retrieves over 300,000 results! This is far too many to browse through, so we want to find a way to focus our search to look for articles that are most relevant.

Results page in ScienceDirect for a search of the phrase "climate change".

The first step will be to use the "Refine by:" section on the left hand side of the screen. If you want only original research articles from the past 2 years, check off the years you would like and Research articles from the "Article type" section. This has brought our search results down to 67,381 but this is still too many to look through!

Options for refining or filtering searches in ScienceDirect.


To narrow your search from a large number of results you will need to identify some additional or more specific search terms. You can continue to refine your search through the options on the left of the screen, or you can build your search from the search box at the top. To do this you will need to use the Boolean operators AND, OR, and/or NOT.

We will add some additional search terms to our initial search of "climate change". By using AND we will narrow our search, OR can expand it: "climate change" AND "genetic diversity" AND (plants OR trees). Using parentheses around (plants OR trees) groups this part of the search together. Without the parentheses the search would be looking for:

"climate change" AND "genetic diversity" AND plants



Which would provide a huge number of results that would not be very relevant to our search!

Click here for more tips on how to use the Advanced Search in ScienceDirect.

Results for a Boolean and nested search in ScienceDirect.



Once you've found an article of interest there are multiple tools available in ScienceDirect. You can

  • View the PDF of the full article
  • View the abstract in the results list
  • View the figures included in the article
  • Export the citation

Tools available for managing a record in ScienceDirect results.

You can also check the box to the left of any articles of interest and then download multiple article PDFs at once, or export the citations. 

Selecting articles for download or export from ScienceDirect.

Clicking on the title of an article will allow you to read the article online and provide many additional tools and clickable links.

A table of contents with clickable links can be found on the left hand side along with links to figures, tables, and any other additional materials included in the article. 

A short list of similar articles to the one you are viewing can be seen on the right side of the screen.

Under the title are links to add the article to Mendeley (an online referencing tool), share the article (including emailing it to yourself), or to cite the article.

Available tools from the full record of an article in ScienceDirect.

If you are interested in any of the references in the article you can click on the hyperlinked text and options to find the referenced article are provided. They may be found in ScienceDirect, link to another website, or allow you to search Google Scholar, so make sure you set up Google Scholar to link to the Ambrose Library!

Using hyperlinked in-text references to access additional articles.

You can also create an account in ScienceDirect.

First step to creating a personal ScienceDirect account.

When you're logged in it will track your search and reading history (this can be turned off) and you can also set alerts for publications of interest.

Features available in ScienceDirect from a personal account.

If you've created a search that is really useful for you, you can view only new results for that search as well.

Search history options in ScienceDirect.