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WHSL Introduction to the Medical Literature: Finding Electronic Journals

This guide will show you the basics of how to find information in print and online at the Witwatersrand Health Sciences Library


Most (but not all) journals at WHSL are available electronically.

However, electronic journals (e-journals) still follow the same format as print journals, ie. they still have a journal-title, a volume, an issue, a year of publication, and often still also have page numbers. Each journal article will have one or more authors and an article title. You will not be able to find an e-journal article unless you understand how to find a print journal article. This guide will assist you to find e-journals. You will learn how to search for medical journal articles by subject in another guide (WHSL Basic Searching in PubMed).

To search for an e-journal at Wits, go to e-Journal Finder:

  • Type in the journal-title in the title search bar, eg. Lancet
  • Set the button to "exact" as Lancet is the full title of the journal. If you omit this step, you will find many other journals that contain the word "lancet" or journal titles beginning with the word "lancet". 
  • Note the WHSL "holdings" for Lancet. Holdings are the years of the journal to which WHSL subscribes.
  • You want the following article from the Lancet: January 2011, 377 (9759):74-84.
  • In the case of Lancet you will see that Wits has access to this e-journal from many different sources.
    • The first source listed is Elsevier ScienceDirect Complete and WHSL has a subscription from 1823 onwards.
    • The full text (ie. the full journal articles) of Lancet is also available from ProQuest Psychology Journals, but this platform has the journal only from 1992 onwards, and can not make very recent articles available as there is an embargo of 2 months (ie. the most recent 2 month/s are not available).
    • ProQuest Research Library has the same restrictions as ProQuest Psychology Journals, ie. it only has the Lancet available from 1992 onwards, and it also has a two month embargo.
  • The best option for you therefore is to use the Elsevier ScienceDirect Complete hyperlink. Click on this link.
  • You will be asked to supply details of the year (2011), volume (377) and issue (9759) as well as the start page (74) of this request, or you can simply click on "Go".
  • If you are searchng on-campus, the link will open. If you are searching remotely, you will be asked at this stage to supply your surname, student/staff no. and PIN. The PIN validates your registration at Wits and allows you to use Wits Library material.
  • If you have been able to supply all requested information (year, volume, issue, and start page), the article you want will open. If you have clicked on "Go" (without filling in these details), you will have to search further for this article by using the e-contents pages and searching for either the author/s and/or the article title.
  • You can view, download, or print the article either in HTML format (which will allow hyperlinking in the text, but you may have problems with downloading graphics, tables, etc.), or in PDF format (as the article would appear in the print version). If you require the PDF version, you must click on this link.
  • Note this journal article also has a supplementary webappendix, which you will need to download separately.
  • Every article that you print or download is subject to copyright, and you may not copy, or cut and paste from it without acknowledgement. You must also acknowledge (cite) the source of the article if you use information from it in your own work.
  • You will be shown how to cite the medical literature in another guide (called WHSL Citing the Medical Literature).