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Image: SFX
What is SFX?

SFX is an acronym for “special effects”. It is also the name of a linking service which can speed up the use of electronic library resources.

SFX can give you direct access from a reference, in a database or catalogue, to the full text of an electronic journal article.

It can also provide other context-sensitive links to relevant electronic resources, such as a search of another library catalogue.

How do I use SFX?

SFX is available wherever you see the SFX button button.
Because it is a linking service, SFX only appears when integrated with other electronic resources, so it does not need to be accessed separately.

Click on the SFX button button, and a menu of possible links will appear, for example:

Example of SFX page

You will see the full citation of the book or article at the top of the menu, followed by a number of links.

Clicking on one of these links opens a new Web browser window of an external website containing the full text or catalogue search of your choice. For example:

Example Science Direct web page result

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Where will I see the SFX button?

The SFX button (or an “SFX” text hyperlink in one or two cases) appears in:

  • Explore, the UCL library catalogue (via SFX@UCL button and many "View Online" links)
  • MetaLib, the gateway to UCL's electronic resources
  • Most of the major indexing/abstracting databases listed in UCL's database list.

1. Explore results list with "View Online" link and SFX@UCL button. For full-text articles, the View Online link shows full-text options for this article. The SFX@UCL button provides additional services as well as full-text.

Example of SFX search option

2. Explore full record display with the same links

Example of SFX search option

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Which resources can I reach through SFX?

The exact options on the SFX menu are dynamically generated, relevant to your search and specific to UCL. Therefore, they will not be the same each time you click an SFX button. The menu can include links to any of the following:

  • Electronic journals ('Full text') to which UCL subscribes.
    Note: There may be more than one alternative, if the journal is available from more than one provider.
    Note: When accessing SFX from an article record in any database, an e-journal will only appear if UCL subscribes to the exact article requested. Our subscriptions do not always cover every year of each journal.
  • Electronic books ('Full text') from various publishers.
  • Library catalogues - instant search for the item in one of these catalogues.
    Catalogues available in this way are:
    • Explore (for UCL holdings)
    • the Union List of Serials (for journals only)
    • COPAC - UK and Irish academic, national and specialist library catalogues
    • University of London Research Library Services (including Senate House)
    • Search25 - academic libraries in London
    • The British Library
    • Middlesex University catalogue (for Whittington Health site users)
    • University of Adelaide catalogue (for UCL Australia)

    See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/otherlib.shtml for information on using other libraries.
    Note: There is no guarantee that you will find the requested book or journal in any of these catalogues, as they appear in the menu without any pre-check.
  • Download to Reference Manager/EndNote
    Where full citation information is provided by the source database, you will see an option at the bottom of the SFX menu to "Download Citation to Reference Manager/EndNote". Clicking on this link will automatically open Reference Manager, EndNote, or other similar citation management software, if you have it on your computer, and give you the option to load the citation into the software.
  • Inter Library Loan
    If an item is not available at UCL, you will be shown an option to 'Request via UCL Inter-Library Loan' (note that most UCL libraries make a charge for this service). This will take you to the login screen for the UCL Library catalogue, where you can log in with your library barcode and PIN (UCL staff and students only). You will then be taken to the Inter Library Loan request form, with the details of your chosen item filled in already. Please check the details on the form, taking care to fill in mandatory fields such as whether you want a whole book/journal or just part, and whether the item is required for non-commercial use only. You can then submit the form for processing as usual.
    More information on the Inter Library Loan service is available on the Library website.
  • Article recommendation service
    You will sometimes see a section headed ‘Users interested in this article also expressed an interest in the following:’ For a particular article, the service recommends other articles which may be similar to the one you've requested. These recommendations are based on real usage data from thousands of researchers across the world, and are updated continually. For more information see our article recommendation service help page.
Can I use SFX from outside UCL?

Any of those databases listed above which can be accessed from off-site will show the SFX button button under those circumstances.

Most e-journals are available off-site, with your UCL userid and password. This will be indicated in a note on the SFX menu, for example:

Example of SFX results page

If an e-journal has other access arrangements, or is not available off-site, this will also be shown in a note.
See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/ejournal/access.shtml for further information.

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Frequently asked questions

I know that UCL subscribes to this e-journal, but it is not appearing in the SFX menu. Why not?

If you opened SFX from a specific article in a database, SFX will check the UCL electronic holdings. If we do not subscribe to that year/volume, the journal will not appear in the SFX menu. Check Explore for details of our electronic and print holdings.

I have clicked on a link to full-text in the SFX menu - why am I not taken straight to the article?

Some e-journal providers do not provide links to the article level of their journals. In some cases, you will be taken to the volume level or the journal homepage, from which you can browse to the particular article you want.

I have clicked on a link to full-text, but the article is not available on the journal's website - why not?

Occasionally, articles are published in print (or indexed in databases) before they appear on the journal's website. For current subscriptions, SFX only "knows" how to provide access to the latest available issue on the journal's website - SFX doesn't know what that issue actually is.

There are no full-text links in the menu - what should I do now?

If you are looking for a journal article and no full-text links are offered by SFX, check the print holdings in one of the catalogues in the SFX menu. If the UCL library catalogue is listed, you should always check that first. If the UCL library catalogue is not listed, you can use the M25 Union List of Serials to see if any other university library in London holds the journal.

The SFX menu tells me “no services found for the current record” - why is this?

If no full-text is available, SFX needs enough information to offer a catalogue search instead. If the referring database does not provide a unique identifier (ISBN for a book or ISSN for a journal), SFX cannot offer any services.

How does SFX work in Google Scholar?

UCL has activated SFX links in Google Scholar. These can only appear as text links rather than the SFX button. If you are using a UCL computer, you should see these links automatically. If you want to display UCL SFX links from a computer outside the UCL network, either follow the special UCL link to Google Scholar from the Databases list or set UCL in your Scholar Preferences. A large link, labelled "SFX@UCL - Fulltext" will appear if UCL has the item in full text via SFX. A smaller link, labelled simply "SFX@UCL", below the citation, indicates that UCL may have the item in print and the SFX menu will allow you to search the library catalogue.

Can I use SFX in PubMed?

Yes. The easiest way to see UCL SFX links in PubMed is to access PubMed using the special URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?otool=iukucllib, or via the entry for PubMed in MetaLib or the databases list. Alternatively, you can create or modify a MyNCBI account in PubMed with UCL preferences, as described below.

To set your MyNCBI preferences, sign in to MyNCBI (or register as a new user). Select NCBI Site Preferences at the top right. Under PubMed Preferences, click on Outside Tool. Click the radio button next to UCL (University College London) - SFX, then Save.

If you encounter any problems using SFX, please use the problem report form to contact the ejournals team. In your report, include as much information as possible about the actions which led to the problem and the text of any error messages you see.

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Last modified 03 October 2013

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