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Science Direct: Refine Search Results

Describes how to search and retrieve information from Science Direct

Refine Results

Science Direct Refine your Search

The Refine filters feature shows you the number of documents in your search results, in a variety of categories. It uses to refine your search results list by year, publication title, topics, and content type.

It is located on the left side of your search results list. 



The publication year of an article. Years are listed in descending order. If documents from more than 20 years are found by your search, the first 20 years are listed in the Refine filters panel and the remaining years are merged into one category.

Publication Title

The title of the journal or book in which a document was published.


The main subjects of a document. To determine a topic, the entire document is processed and key terms are extracted. These terms are weighted for the frequency of occurrence and placement in the article. The top 10 terms appear in Refine filters as topics.

Content Type

  • Journal - Includes journals and book series. Book series: an open-ended, usually hardcover, set of books with a series title and volume number. Book Series always have an ISSN and volumes and usually also have an ISBN. Book Series contain a collection of articles in a broad subject context. Book Series are published regularly--usually at least once per year--and are often very similar to journals in their content and structure.
  • Book - Includes books, handbooks, book series, and reference works. Handbooks: are authoritative reference or review works. Individual articles in handbooks are self-contained surveys and provide extensive reference lists. Reference Works: a type of publication, comprehensive publication, or an encyclopedia made available on ScienceDirect for browsing or searching.
  • Reference Work - Includes only Reference Works


Your Friendly Librarian

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Muna Abdulla
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Subjects: Academic integrity

Access Level

Do I have access to all Science Direct e-books and Journal articles?

No, there will be icon located in the right of a book chapter or journal article indicates full text access or abstract only.

ScienceDirect uses several different icons to indicate a document’s access level.

The table below shows different access levels used for all content.

Document Type

Access Level

Abstract Only

  Abstract Only - this icon indicates access to abstract only not full text article or book chapters.

Full-Text Available

  Subscribed Content - you can access the full content of books and journal articles that are subscribed through KU Libraries.

  Both Open Access and Subscribed content are available in the publication.

  Open Access - anyone can view the full content.

Downloading Full-Text

ScienceDirect full-text articles are available in PDF files for downloading (save). There are two ways to download articles.

First option, is right under the article in the search results list. See below

The second option, at the top of the article information page “download PDF”. See below.

Open Access (Free Full-Text)

Open Access articles are always freely available in full-text without subscription.

To browse or access “open access” articles, follow these steps:

Click “Journals” or “Book” option on the top bar of the ScienceDirect website.

Click the filter “All Access Types” and select “Open Access” from the dropdown menu.

To search for “Open Access” articles, follow these steps:

  1. Click “Advanced search” under the Quick search box at on the ScienceDirect homepage.
  2. Enter your search term(s) and select “Open access articles” to refine your search.
  3. Click “Search”.