Connecting the literature search

Researchers and students expect search tools to guide them on a path through the depth and breadth of literature and to return with reliable and useful insights.

An expert within a field may be able to navigate this with ease, however researchers seeking interdisciplinary knowledge outside their area of expertise or students learning about a new field require background contextual information to be able to progress. In working with our users and customers, we found that there are currently significant limitations in the scientific and technical research workflow to find the critical contextual content required to get up to speed on a topic.

Connecting the literature search - ScienceDirect Topics | Elsevier solutions

When finding one’s path through a literature search can be overwhelming. It is easy to be caught up in siloed information, untrusted sources and site hopping just to explore a single unknown idea or topic.

In consulting journal articles, researchers and students often have difficulty accessing valuable contextual information when and where they need it, to foster learning and make better connections through discovery and serendipity. The necessary content is not easy to find, so they are missing essential answers. In many cases, this content can be found in books…but it is not easily discoverable. Because traditional technology currently surfaces journal articles as a priority on scholarly platforms and search engines produce an avalanche of results, many that are unreliable, the key content from books is buried and not readily accessible.

If researchers and students don’t arrive at the sources they need, you as their librarian never receive data on what those valuable contextual sources might be. So how can you truly be sure you have the most complete data picture of researchers’ or students’ needs in order to make the right decisions? Without the right data, how do you know you are serving your patrons to the best of your ability? Books offer the content and context to promote learning and make the necessary connections to achieve breakthroughs in research and education. Researchers need that wealth of valuable foundational content in books and references, to provide the “missing link,” the information that enables their searches to be more streamlined and targeted.

The ScienceDirect platform offers access to more than 2,500 journals and 39,000+ eBook titles and iconic reference works. Using smart technology, we have “unlocked” the buried content in ScienceDirect. ScienceDirect Topics instantly fills the gaps by surfacing topic-specific content from our books and reference works, via links to definitions and brief, introductory overviews of concepts and terms encountered in online searches or journal articles. Finally, the right content is in the right place at the right time!


13 million visits
on average per month

topic pages in 20 disciplines

Hyperlinked from over
4.8 million journal articles

Immediate value to researchers

Since many researchers, academics and students initially use search engines to find foundational information about a topic, ScienceDirect's 329,000+ topic pages across 20 scientific disciplines are indexed by search engines such as Google.

It provides a free layer of information and a starting point for searches on topics of interest.

Additionally, as the primary point of interaction with scholarly material is at the journal level, the topic pages are hyperlinked from terms right within journal articles to help readers rapidly interpret those articles with reliable, relevant definitions and overviews taken from a range of book content.

By integrating book and journal content, we have created an interactive, seamless and convenient reading experience that provides fundamental knowledge at the point of need.

The topic pages contain key contextual information taken from reference books, including definitions, snippets and related terms to provide a reliable overview of a topic.

Click on the image above to see the detail or:

View an example topic page on ScienceDirect

The topic pages enable users to navigate scientific literature with improved efficiency, whether they’re investigating something within their area of expertise or unfamiliar concepts and terms.

The embedded links allow access to information from multiple interdisciplinary book sources, exposing connections across disciplines and enabling deeper exploration of topics if desired.

The topic pages are visually appealing and intuitive, offering a comprehensive overview in a digestible format.

A better way to leverage library investment

ScienceDirect Topics has received positive reviews from initial users. Tested with students at Lafayette College, PA, USA, one said, “I thought it was very helpful. I could contain my searches to the article without wasting time looking information up elsewhere.” ScienceDirect Topics revolutionizes the process of primary research – with targeted content surfaced when and where it’s needed - and is applicable to all levels, from undergraduate students to advanced interdisciplinary researchers. Using ScienceDirect Topics will increase their efficiency to discover reliable content, enhance their understanding of scientific literature and save them time and effort.

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From a library investment point of view, the topic pages facilitate the co-usage of journals and books which are already so complementary and fundamentally interlinked. Plus, the topic pages are available at no additional charge and increase the discoverability of your book purchases with relevant excerpts from trusted books and references. ScienceDirect Topics increases the value of your journal purchases due to better understanding of the articles they contain. With ScienceDirect Topics, you will be providing your users a seamless and more direct route to answers. You will see improved user outcomes, as well as a more accurate representation of demand. Because researchers are demonstrating actual intent in accessing content, the usage analytics generated by ScienceDirect Topics will be more valuable to you than typical download or turnaway statistics. With books being surfaced at the point of need, you will now receive analytical data showing true demand, to help you make informed buying decisions.

Sound intriguing?

Lead your patrons to the best literature research experience they’ve ever had - it’s your chance to lay the groundwork for higher quality research, and enable connected information to become knowledge!

View example topic page on ScienceDirect­ ­ ­ ­Explore ScienceDirect Topics now