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Explore video tutorials

What is Explore?

Explore is a one-stop service solution for the discovery and delivery of printed and electronic resources. You can search for material within a single resource or across a range of resources simultaneously. Your choice of resources includes:

A search for journal articles and other full-text resources in Explore will find results from a wide range of sources. In some cases, though, users may prefer to search UCL's subscription databases individually or through MetaLib, particularly where some of the content of a database is not covered in Explore. List of databases whose content is not covered by Explore.

Performing basic searches

You can search very easily using Explore. Just type one or more words you are looking for and click the Search button.

NOTE: Explore assumes that you are searching for all the words you type unless OR or NOT are not specified between the words and phrases.

Once you are familiar with the basic Explore search, you might want to try doing more with the search panel or use the Advanced search option. Both of these options offer numerous features for making your searches more precise and enable you to get results that are more useful. For library catalogue material, you can also Browse through certain indexes.

How can I do more with the search box?

You can do more than just a simple keyword search with the search box. Try the following options to get the best results for your search:

Searching for a phrase

To search for a phrase, type double quotation marks around the phrase. You can combine both words and phrases in your search.

NOTE: If you do not enclose the phrase with quotation marks, the system will find items that contain the individual words in the phrase, regardless of whether these words are located next to each other in the order specified.

For example, to search for global warming as one term, type the following in the search box:

“global warming”

Searching for any specified words or phrases

You can search for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you type in the search box. To do so, type OR between the words or phrases.

NOTE: If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Explore assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

For example, to search for items with the word Irish or the word Celtic, type the following in the search box:

irish OR celtic

NOTE: To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) within search phrases, you must enter them in uppercase letters. Otherwise, Explore will consider them as part of the query.

Excluding words or phrases

You can exclude items that contain specific words or phrases. To do so, type NOT and then type the word or phrase to exclude.

NOTE: If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Explore assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

For example, to search for items with the word Celtic and exclude any of these items with the word Irish, type the following in the search box:

celtic NOT irish

Searching using wildcard characters

You can include wildcard characters in your searches as follows:

? Enter a question mark to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, to search for records that contain the strings woman, women and so forth type:


* Enter an asterisk to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, to search for records that contain strings, such as culture, cultural and culturally type:


Grouping terms within a query

You can use parentheses to group terms within a query. For example, to search for Shakespeare and either tragedy or sonnet, type the following in the search box:

shakespeare (tragedy OR sonnet)

Selecting a search resource

The search resource defines where the system should perform the search. The default search resource is All resources (see the What is Explore? section above) but you can change the scope of your search by selecting a different resource from the drop-down list as shown in the following example:

Browsing the library catalogue

To browse certain indexes of the UCL library catalogue, click on Browse next to the Explore search box or anywhere else that the link appears (next to other search boxes or in the top More menu). You can browse the following indexes:

In the browse results list, click on the entry you wish to see and this will be displayed in the brief results list as below, unless there is only one entry, in which case a detailed display will be shown.

Using the brief results

The brief results display all the items that match your search query. For each item, the following information displays:

Brief results screen

If you would like to see more information on an item, you can select the following tabs:


View Online tab

The View Online tab displays items that are available online inside the tab. If the item has multiple entries, click an entry to display the item on a new page.

Locations tab

The Locations tab lists all of the locations that hold this item. To get more information on the location that holds the item, click either the location link or the + icon.

Details tab

The Details tab displays the full record for the item as well as additional links, including the option to export item information to reference management tools.

Recommendations tab

The Recommendations tab displays additional items which are based on searches performed by users who have also viewed the current item.

SFX button

The SFX button displays additional links provided by the SFX service in relation to the current item.

About our libraries link

The About our libraries link supplements the Locations tab, taking you to more information about the library locations.

Times cited tab

The Times cited tab shows data from Web of Science (where available) on which other articles have cited a particular journal article.

Refine my results

To the left of the brief results list are various options for refining the results of your search.

Expand results beyond UCL subscriptions

When searching 'All resources' or 'Journal articles', this retrieves additional search results for which UCL does not have online full text. Journal article searches are initially restricted to full text only, until this expand option is clicked.

Refinement facets

You can refine your search by the following 'facets' which group results together under common characteristics

In some cases, the first few groups (the largest) are shown immediately, but for each facet you can click on 'More options' and then select which values you want to include or exclude. Note that you only need to use either 'include' or 'exclude' as these are mutually exclusive.

Your space in Explore

This section includes:

Why should I sign in?

When you sign in to Explore, you are able to do the following:

Why should I sign out?

You should sign out of Explore so that your searches remain private and your personal settings and basket are not tampered with by anyone else.

My Account

My Account enables you to view the contents of your library card and perform library services, such as renewing a book or cancelling a request. In addition, it lets you define your personal Explore settings. To access My Account, click the My Account link, which appears at the top of each page in Explore.

Personal Settings

You can set the maximum number of search results per page by clicking the Personal Settings option on the left side of My Account.

You can also 'Personalize your results', or change these settings. The first time you log in to Explore you will be asked if you want to specify your subject discipline in order to adjust the ranking of journal articles accordingly. If you want to update these settings at any time, go to Personal Settings > Edit and select your level (e.g. undergraduate or researcher) and one or more disciplines in which you are interested. This boosts articles from certain journals up the rankings whenever the results of your search may cross several disciplines.

Using the e-Shelf

The e-Shelf allows you to save and organize items that you find during your Explore session. To access the e-Shelf, click the e-Shelf link at the top of the page.

This section includes:

Saving items to the e-Shelf

When you select the Star icon for an item in the search results, the system highlights the icon and adds the item to the Basket folder in the e-Shelf.

Image showing e-Shelf star selected

You can also add an entire page of results to the eShelf by clicking on the link at the bottom of the left-hand column

Image showing how to add an entire page of results to the eShelf

NOTE: You must sign in to save items to the e-Shelf for future sessions.

Removing items from the e-Shelf

To remove an item and all of its copies in the various folders in the e-Shelf, select the highlighted Star icon next to the item in the search results.

Image showing e-Shelf star not selected

If you do not want to delete all copies of an item from the e-Shelf, you must remove each copy directly from the e-Shelf. For more information on removing items from e-Shelf, see Managing items.

Viewing items saved to the e-Shelf

To view items that are saved to the e-Shelf, click the Basket folder or any of its subfolders. From the list of items, click the item that you want to display.

Managing folders

From the e-Shelf tab, you can perform the following operations on folders:

Managing items

From the e-Shelf tab, you can perform the following operations on items:

Using queries, alerts and RSS feeds

This section includes:

What is a query?

A query is a word or phrase you specify in the search panel to request information. You can do the following with queries:

Viewing and saving queries

If you are signed in, you can save a query by clicking the Save search link, which appears below the facets on the brief results page. You can access your saved and session queries by clicking either the e-Shelf or My Account link and then clicking the My Queries tab.

Queries screen shot

This tab contains the following folders:

NOTE: If you are not signed in, your queries are available only during the current session

You can run a saved query yourself, or you can set it as an alert that runs automatically at scheduled times and sends you new results by e-mail.

What Is an Alert?

An alert is a process that runs your query automatically at scheduled times and sends you new results via e-mail.

Viewing and activating alerts

To view the list of alerts, click the Saved Queries & Alerts menu. To configure an alert for a saved query, click the Update link for that query and then specify the alert settings.

Activating RSS Feeds

Syndicated content, otherwise known as Really Simple Syndication (RSS), is a popular way to distribute information from web sites. For example, using RSS, a news site or a blog can automatically feed its news articles or entries to a group of subscribers.

RSS feeds in Explore are used to notify you of new items found by the query. RSS feeds can be activated from either the search results or the Saved Queries & Alerts folder on the My Queries tab. All you need is to have an RSS reader installed on your computer.

If your browser supports RSS, click the RSS button. A window from which you can subscribe to the RSS feeds opens. Follow the instructions in the window.

If your browser does not support RSS, right-click the RSS button, copy the URL, and paste it into the RSS reader.

Databases not covered, or partially covered, in Explore

The content of the databases below is not included, or is only partly included, in Explore. Some results from these databases will appear in Explore, but for a comprehensive search please use MetaLib or search the databases individually.