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Past knowledge empowers today's research

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High-quality scholarly research published before 1995 is essential for the science of the future. ScienceDirect users say access to back issues helps them validate findings, prevent unnecessarily replicating research, and fuel new research ideas.

By adding Backfiles to your institution’s ScienceDirect subscription, you can make groundbreaking research discoverable through the efficient, time-saving ScienceDirect database.

87% of surveyed ScienceDirect users say that without access to pre-1995 scientific research they would miss out on a reference they need for their work. Backfiles contain the content they need.*

What our customers say

Prof. Iain Clarke

I think it is vital for researchers to be well-informed about past experiments.


Discovering knowledge that is as valuable today as when it was written by Prof. Iain Clarke (Australia)

Download the case study (PDF, 948.2 KB)

Dr. Bikramjit Basu

If you do a citation analysis of my published papers, you’ll find a good 28 percent made references to articles published prior to 1995.

Developing a comprehensive body of knowledge for researchers by Dr. Bikramjit Basu (India)

Download the case study (PDF, 1021.6 KB)

Dr. Nyoman Pujawan

If we only look at literature from the past five years, it is possible that we may repeat something that other people have done ten years before.


Preparing graduate students for careers in research by Dr. Nyoman Pujawan (Indonesia)

Download the case study (PDF, 1001.7 KB)

Dr. Bor-Ming Jahn

Researchers should do more comprehensive reading about related and cross disciplinary subjects because earlier articles are valuable and catalysts for new areas of research.

Supporting multidisciplinary research by
Dr. Bor-Ming Jahn (Taiwan)

Download the case study (PDF, 1.4 MB)


Why ScienceDirect Backfiles

Benefits for Researchers

  • A solid foundation for scholarly research through article access to historical precedents and groundbreaking research, including Nobel Prize winning research
  • Premium content providing inspiration for new studies
  • A head start on knowledge about their own field and for interdisciplinary research
  • The complete picture, so they know they’re on the right track

Benefits for the Library

  • A complete article collection, with packages available per subject area to best support your users
  • Financial savings: a one-time purchase; less expensive than scanning individually or document delivery; no storage or administration costs for a paper article archive
  • Fully searchable: HTML header, abstracts and references, and full-text research articles are searchable via raw ASCII files in the background
  • Citations, abstracts and references are fully linked and CrossRef-enabled

Contact us to find out more and enable access to Backfiles


More details about ScienceDirect Backfiles

Available to

All institutions and organizations with a ScienceDirect subscription

How to add perpetual access to Backfiles

    Perpetual access to Backfiles only takes a one-time adjustment to your existing ScienceDirect subscription:

  • Over 5 million articles in our historical journal content archive, many going back to Volume 1, Issue 1
  • Available in perpetuity and your users will be able to access it on ScienceDirect, just like all the other content, with the same functionality
  • All insights you need, provided by usage reports

Types of Content and Content Options

Several types of content and subject areas are available:

  • New ScienceDirect Backfile Titles — high quality articles from foundational publications, including from 18 legacy journals (mainly from societies). You can purchase titles individually or save up with bulk (reduced) rates. You’ll be guaranteed the same archival rights as our other Backfile collections. Download the backfile title list (PDF, 170.3 KB)
  • Pre-1995 scientific research — available to existing ScienceDirect customers in pre-defined article collections, each comprising all pre-1995 journal titles and content, going back as far as Elsevier has the electronic rights (often to Volume 1, Issue 1). Check the title lists.
  • Post-1994 Backfiles — as a ScienceDirect customer, you can fill in Backfiles from 1995 onward for specific titles that are not included in your current ScienceDirect subscription entitlement. Check the title lists.
  • Elsevier Urban & Fischer Journal Archives — digitized and available for the first time in electronic format, content from these high-quality, peer-reviewed titles extends from the first volumes published in English (1960s-1970s) to 2000, linking seamlessly with post-2000 Urban & Fischer journals on ScienceDirect. Check the title lists.

*June 2019 ScienceDirect TechValidate Survey results