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Finding and Managing Information for Your Dissertation: 5. Where to search


people sitting down near table with assorted laptop computers

There are a range of specialist databases to access.

Our recommendation for dissertations is that you always use more than one database for retrieving sources. Ideally, one general database and one more specific subject database will provide a good spread of relevant sources.

While there may be overlap in the references found in different databases, all databases will contain some references which are unique as all have their particular focus and can vary in geographical coverage and date range.

Examples of where to search

In the main you will use the Library's research databases.

The databases allow you to search through millions of journal articles, book chapters and book reviews, reports and proceedings, theses, etc., at one time.

No two databases have exactly the same content so you should search several databases to ensure you don't miss a key paper on your topic. Take a look through the following tabs and the box opposite to find out more on where to search for material.

Libraries (the default search) finds

  • physical items in campus libraries: books, journals, newspapers, pamphlets, DVDs, CDs, dictionaries, atlases
  • e-books, e-journals and other electronic information sources to which AU subscribes


Primo FAQs:

Articles search via Primo

Journals and journal articles provide important sources of academic information. Articles does a fast search of many journal articles from participating publishers and returns results with full-text online.

You can search for ​journal articles using the Articles search ​in Primo.

Available via Primo, you will find links to a wide variety of online information resources which AU students and staff have access to via an AU Library subscription or purchase, plus a small selection of high-quality, freely-available content.

These are links to an alphabet list of links to electronic information resources that Aberystwyth University subscribes to. The page detects whether you are on campus or not and provides off-campus advice accordingly. Resources selected by subject are available on the subject information pages.

  • An A-Z list of all databases the Library gives you access to. If you are researching a multi-disciplinary topic, you are recommended to start identifying your databases from Resources A-Z.

You can search and find the Aberystwyth Research Portal via Primo for AU higher degree theses and research located in the Pure research repository. If you prefer, you can visit the Aberystwyth Research Portal and search it directly.

The Aberystwyth Research Portal makes the very best of Aberystwyth University's staff and postgraduate research openly available online, free of charge.

Content in the portal includes published outputs, postgraduate theses, project details, as well as records for other esteem activities.

The portal also includes personal profiles of all current staff and research students.

This allows browsers of the Portal to view on one page all related research content linked to that person. Browsing is also possible by department.

You can search the Aberystwyth Research Portal for theses either in the general search box or by browsing the postgraduate publications community. Aberystwyth Research Portal records do not necessarily provide full text access, for theses, this might be because a thesis has a temporary embargo on open access (embargo conditions and date of availability can be found by clicking on 'Show Full Item Record'), or a permanent embargo due to issues of copyright or sensitive information, for example.

WHELF Search via Primo returns results from WHELF member library catalogues that includes all the higher education institutions in Wales along with the National Library of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Natural Resources Wales and the Open University in Wales.



Your one-stop-shop for your subject. The subject guides will help you find further information, suggestions for websites, organisations and databases that are relevant for your subject area.


How Google Scholar Judges Research - Social Science Space

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar can be a good place to start your search but it does not allow for the advanced or complex searching you can do in the Library's research databases.


Access e-resources using Google Scholar 

Google Scholar may not provide access to full-text, however, by linking to the Library you can access full-text where there is a University subscription. 

  1. Selecting Settings from the top of the Google Scholar Home Page
  2. Selecting Library Links
  3. Search for Aberystwyth University. Select it from the list and Save your settings

You will now see FindIt@Aber links next to items in your Google Scholar results that you can use to access the full-text.

Open Access resources

You can find and access Open Access academic material via the University’s library catalogue Primo and the Aberystwyth Research Portal. 
Increasing amounts of academic material is also being placed on the internet as Open Access.  This means that it is not hidden behind a paywall and is freely accessible by anyone.  Sometimes these documents are versions that have the same content as a final published version but are called post-prints or Author Accepted Manuscripts.  Sometimes they are final published versions.

Such material isn’t always easy to locate so there are a number of tools and websites available which can help students and researchers find articles, books and journals which have, intentionally and legally, been published Open Access.  These are listed on the following tabs. Some are in-built into the University’s system, others may have to be added as browser extensions.  Not all work on all browsers. 
Aberystwyth University’s research outputs can also be found via these tools and websites.

Material not available in the library?

Obtaining and Reading full-text of material not available in the library

Many of the books and papers which you select for use in your dissertation will either be available in the AU libraries or be directly linkable online through our AU Library e-subscriptions.

If neither print nor online versions of a book or paper are available through Primo, including where the article is hidden behind a paywall, please use the following alternative methods of supply:

  • Document Supply Service
    • If the item(s) you require is held neither with the AU Libraries or at the National Library of Wales, use the  Document Supply service.
    • You can find more information about the service and how to make requests by visiting the Document Supply webpage


  • National Library of Wales
    • Details of the holdings available for reference at the National Library of Wales can be found at  NLW Catalogue ( webpage.
    • Registration for visiting the National Library of Wales and viewing its materials is mandatory.
    • Registration forms can be found in English and Welsh on the NLW website.

Examples of where to look

Database Description

Primo Library Search

Contains records of all the books, e-books and reports available in Aberystwyth University libraries. The Primo Searching FAQs will help you to use all the various Primo facilities.

The Primo Virtual Browse feature will enable you to retrieve books on the same topic as the one your are currently viewing:

If there is a particular book which you need but it is not in the library, please request a copy for purchase through our More Books scheme. Purchases will be paid for by the library.

Primo Articles Search

All papers retrieved using the Primo Articles search will have full-text access. Please remember to sign-in before running your search. If you are off campus, some articles may require VPN to be loaded on your computer to reach the full-text.

Web of Science (Web of Knowledge)  Coverage of science, social science and arts/humanities topics, with science coverage going back to 1945, social sciences back to 1956 and arts/humanities back to 1975. Summaries (abstracts) of scholarly journal articles and dissertations in psychology and related subjects. You can check for the availability of full text articles by clicking on the '@aber' icon next to search results.
Ebsco Business Source Complete via EbscoHost Indexes a wide range of journal articles, books, reports and magazines on a wide range of topics, centred on business/economics but spreading widely into both the science and arts.  Contains access to over 3,000 journals. Covers all areas of business, including finance, management, management information systems, marketing and international business.
JSTOR Titles often available in complete runs (i.e. from the date of the first issue) in an archive often running up to 4-5 years before the current issues. Centred on arts/humanities titles
Gale Reference Complete Full-text news database, featuring content from over 12,000 regional, national and global newspapers from 100 countries worldwide.


An information source for scientific, technical, and medical research
Scopus A large abstract and citation database
Computer Society (IEEE) The IEEE Computer Society is the world's leading membership organization dedicated to computer science and technology. The Digital Library holds more than 550,000 articles and papers on computer science and technology.
Lexis®Library For key law and criminology resources

Gale OneFile News

Regional, national and world newspapers.
CINAHL (Abstracts & Indexes) CINAHL is an index of English-language and selected other-language journal articles about nursing, allied health, biomedicine and healthcare
PsycArticles APA PsycArticles® is a database of full-text articles from journals published by the American Psychological Association, the APA Educational Publishing Foundation, the Canadian Psychological Association, and Hogrefe & Huber. The database includes all material from the print journals
PubMed PubMed® comprises more than 32 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

For more examples of where to search, check out the LibGuides