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Zetoc Workbook

NOTE: All of the terms used on this page are in the Zetoc Glossary.

This document is also available in Word and PDF formats.

The Zetoc Service

The Zetoc service provides Z39.50-compliant access to the British Library's Electronic Table of Contents (ETOC). The database gives access to over 39,500 journals, 65.5 million article citations and conference papers. Zetoc covers every imaginable subject in science, technology, medicine, engineering, business, law, finance, the arts and humanities. The database covers the years from 1993 to date and is updated daily. Abstracts are included for those titles whereby there is an agreement between the British Library and the publisher to provide this information.

Copies of articles and conference papers listed on the database are available from the British Library. There is a link to the British Library's document ordering facility from each full record page within Zetoc. Zetoc also inlcudes Open Access content from selected publishers. Open Access records in Zetoc display the Open Access symbolOpen Access Symbol and link to the full text on the publisher website.

Zetoc Search: enables you to search for citations of journal articles and conference proceedings via search forms, using one or more words in various fields, such as title, author and date.

Zetoc Alert: is a current awareness service that sends email Alerts matching your search criteria whenever relevant new data is loaded into the database. Alerts may include searches for journal titles and searches for authors' names and keywords from the titles of articles and papers. These email Alerts will be sent on the day the new data is loaded into the database, which is usually within 72 hours of publication.

Zetoc RSS: is an alternative means to subscribe to feeds for individual journals, enabling you to view the journal title, article titles and basic article information. A link to the full Zetoc record is also incorporated into the feed. Within Zetoc, we provide a list of journals with an RSS link beside each journal. You can subscribe to the feed in various ways, depending upon your chosen RSS reader.

Access to Zetoc

The Zetoc service is made available through Jisc.

Zetoc is available free of charge to any member of a JISC-sponsored UK further or higher education institution.

Logging in

Details on logging in to Zetoc are available in the Zetoc FAQ

Getting Started Searching Zetoc

From the Zetoc home page click on Zetoc Search. You will be given three choices:

Each of these provides a search form, with a number of fields you can use to specify your search, and then you can select individual articles to view the full record.

Hints for Searching

General Search

Search Options

All fields

A search across all of the searchable fields: journal title; article title; paper title; authors; editors; publisher and conference data such as keywords, conference venue and sponsors.


A title search will search across both the journal article title and the conference paper title.

You may wish to enter significant words from the title or a complete title or phrase, which needs to be surrounded by quotation marks.

Example Description
“Climate change a sinking feeling” full title of article, put in quotation marks to search just on this title
climate change a search on climate AND change, both words must be present and can be in any order
“climate change” trend a search on a phrase and an additional word search, climate AND change must be together and in that order, trend must also be present, but may appear anywhere in the title


Enter single surnames or surnames with initials. You can use punctuation, as this will not affect the search. Do not enter two initials together without punctuation or a space between them.

Example Description
Shaw single surname entry
Shaw Brown both authors must be present in the record
“Shaw G B” surname and initials of author
“Shaw G B” “Brown C L” both authors must be present in the record
“Shaw G.B.” Will retrieve the same as “Shaw G B”
“Shaw GB” Will not retrieve any records, two or more initials together must have punctuation or a space between them.


Enter the ISSN number for a journal, or the ISBN number for a conference paper.

This is a useful way to find the full contents for a journal or conference.

Example Description
0020-8132 Hyphen is optional

Year published

Enter a single date, a start date or a date range.

Example Description
1998 records just for 1998
1998- records from 1998 onwards
1998-2000 records between a date range

Journal Search

Example of a Journal Record Containing an Abstract

Author(s): Mefford, R. N.
Article Title: Increasing productivity in global firms: The CEO challenge
ISSN: 1075–4253
Year: 2009
Volume/Issue: VOL 15; NUMBER 3
Page(s): 262–272
Publication Frequency: Quarterly: 4 issues per year
Publisher: Great Britain : Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam.
Date Published: 20090226
Language: English
Dewey Class: 658
LC Class: HD9000
BLDSC shelfmark: 5007.673200
Abstract: In a highly competitive environment global firms face the challenge of increasing productivity to compete with firms sourcing production in low-wage developing countries. This paper presents a new paradigm of production which provides a solution to the productivity challenge. The new paradigm is both a philosophy of management and a set of methods that draw upon the experiences of firms employing quality management and lean production. This approach has proven to yield substantial gains in quality, productivity, and competitiveness. The methods and the requirements to successfully implement it are discussed. How to transplant these systems to developing countries is also considered. The role of the CEO in successful implementation of the New Productivity Paradigm is discussed in the final section.
Zetoc ID: RN255644450

Search Options

All fields

A search across all searchable fields: article title; author(s); journal title; ISSN; volume/issue; year published; publisher data.

Article title

Enter a word or significant words from the article title, or a complete title or phrase, surrounded by quotation marks. See the title search examples above.


See the author search examples above.

Journal Title

Enter a single word, significant words or a phrase, surrounded by quotation marks.

Example Description
management review both words must be present, but not necessarily in this order
“management review” searches for this phrase


See the ISSN search examples above.


This searches for both the volume and issue number and you can enter one or both.

Generally both or just the issue number is given.

Example Description
50 1search for volume 50, issue (or part) 1
5 search for either volume 5 or issue 5


Usually this search is used in conjunction with volume and issue number.

Example Description
245-254search for start AND end page
245search for start OR end page

Year published

See the year published search examples above.

Conference Search

Example of a conference record

Authors: Spahn, M.; Wulf, V.
Paper Title: End–User Development of Enterprise Widgets
Keywords: Human–computer interaction ; Computer programming
Conference: End–user development; IS–EUD 2009
Conference description: Symposium; 2nd
Conference venue: Siegen, Germany
Conference date: 2009; Mar
ISSN: 0302–9743
ISBN: 9783642004254
Year: 2009
Volume/Issue: NO 5435
Page(s): 106–125
Editor(s): Pipek, Volkmar
Publisher: Berlin; Springer; 2009
Language: English
Material type: Selected papers
BLDSC shelfmark: 5180.185000
ZETOC ID: CN071709575

Search Options

All fields

A search across all searchable fields - paper title, author(s), conference data such as keywords from the conference name, sponsor, venue or date.

Paper Title

Searches for the title of the conference paper, which may include reports, presentations and abstracts. See the title search examples above.


See the author search examples above.


Keywords are assigned to each conference (not each conference paper).

They can be individual words or phrases, such as iodine or “iodine deficiency”.


A search for the conference name, sponsor, venue, description and date can be made in this field.

Examples Description
“Light modulation assessments of compact fluorescent lamps” a search for a full conference title
"high speed" “light modulation” a search for two search strings, both must be present in the retrieved records
“international biometric society” 2004 a search for the sponsor and the year

Tasks: Zetoc Search, Zetoc Alert and Zetoc RSS

Task 1: Search for Articles/Papers about a Specific Subject

  1. Click on Zetoc Search and select General Search.
  2. Type prime numbers in the Title box and click on the Search button.
screenshot of brief record search
  1. Your search results are displayed in brief record format. Results are displayed 25 to a page.
  2. Use the Next and Previous buttons, and First and Last buttons, to navigate through list.
  3. By default the brief display will 'Show Less Record Information' Show Less Record Information. Click on the Show More Record Detail button Show More Record Information to display additional brief record information, including the abstract when available.
  4. Click the record title to view the full Zetoc record of any item.
  5. Use the Next and Previous buttons to navigate through the full records.
  6. Click on the Brief Records button to return to the Brief Records display.
  7. Display the results alphabetically by article/paper title (excluding words such as The, A An etc. at the beginning of titles) by selecting Title from the pull–down menu at the top of the screen and clicking on the re–sort button.
  8. Display the results in chronological order (i.e. oldest first) by selecting Date from the pull–down menu and clicking on the Re–sort button.

Note: if your search retrieves more than 500 records, you will not be able to sort them.

Task 2: Email the Results of your Search

Email your search results to an email account either from the Brief Records display or the Full Records display. The maximum number of results you can email is 500.

  1. Click on the check box at the left hand side of the records you wish to email, so they have ticks in them. You can do this in brief record format or full record format.
  2. Click on the Email Records button at the top or bottom of the screen.
  3. Enter your email address in the box provided. You can only email the records to a single email address.
  4. Select the format of the records you require from the drop–down menu.

Records with Short labels contain abbreviated two-letter fieldnames e.g. AU for Author(s), TI for Article Title and so on, and may be more suitable for importing into reference management software. You should select this option if you wish to import records into EndNote using the filter available on the Zetoc website. Records with Long labels contain full–length fieldnames e.g. Author(s), Article Title etc.

  1. You can choose whether to email just those records you have tagged, or all the records retrieved by the search by selecting the appropriate option from the Download pull–down menu.
  2. Click on the Send email button.

The records are always emailed in Full Record format.

screenshot of emailing zetoc records

Task 3: Search for Journal Articles by a Particular Author

  1. Click on New Search and select Journal Search.
  2. Type “Russell I” in the Author(s) box. The double quotes are needed to make the search into a phrase. See author search examples above for more information. Click Search. Have a look at the results.
  3. Click on New Search.
  4. Select Journal Search.
  5. Type “Cheung W Y” in the Author(s) box. Click Search. Have a look at the results.
  6. Click on New Search.
  7. Select Journal Search.
  8. Type “Russell I” “Cheung W Y” in the Author(s) box. Click Search. Have a look at the results.

Note: if your search only retrieves one result, you will automatically be shown the Full Record.

Task 4: Download the Records from your Search

It is possible to download the records from your search and save them in a plain text file suitable for importing into reference management software.

  1. Click on New Search and select Conference Search.
  2. Type NHS in the Conference box. Click Search.
  3. Click on the check box beside the first 5 results to tag them.
  4. Click on the Download button at the top or bottom of the screen.
  5. Select the Format of the records you require from the drop–down menu.

Records with Short labels contain abbreviated two–letter fieldnames e.g. AU for Author(s), TI for Article Title and so on, and may be more suitable for importing into reference management software. You should select this option if you wish to import records into EndNote using the filter available on the Zetoc website. Records with Long labels contain full–length fieldnames e.g. Author(s), Article Title etc.

  1. Click on the Send file button.
  2. Save the file using the dialog box.
screen shot of download dialog box

Once you have a saved .txt file (text file), you can import it into your bibliographic software. However, please note that you must abide by the Zetoc terms and conditions of use.

Task 5: Search for Articles and Papers about a Particular Subject, using Truncation

  1. Click on New Search and select General Search.
  2. Type medical ethic* in the Title box.

This uses a wildcard, so it retrieves records where the term medical is present AND where any words beginning ethic are present, so it will retrieve both ethical and ethics.

  1. Note that your search has included records where medical and ethic* appear anywhere in the title and not necessarily together.
  2. Follow the general=medical ethic* hyperlink at the top of your results list. This will take you back to the search screen and allow you to edit your search.
  3. Change medical ethic* to read “medical research” ethic* (with double quotes just around the words medical research).
  4. Click on the Search button and note that your search has retrieved records with the phrase medical research and the additional words ethics or ethical.

You should remember to search for variant spellings as the database contains articles published in many different countries. For example, using labo* to retrieve the words labor and labour.

Task 6 View your search history

It is possible to view all the searches you have conducted during the current session.

  1. Click on the History button at the top or bottom of the screen and your searches will be displayed with the most recent first.

Alongside your search term will be the number of hits (records retrieved), sort order and options.

Under Options you will see up to 4 hypertext links:

Note: if you previously tagged any of the records retrieved from this search, you will be able to email just those records. If you did not tag any records you will only be able to email them all.

screenshot of history of zetoc searches

Task 7: Search for Records Relating to Conferences on a Particular Topic

Note: The British Library assigns keywords to each conference. You can only search for keywords in the conference search option.

  1. Click on New Search and select Conference Search.
  2. Type “software engineering” in the Keywords box and click Search.
  3. View one of the Full Records by clicking on the numbered button at the left hand side of a record. You can see the keywords for this record in the Keywords field.
  4. Click the Conference = “software engineering” link and then add Japan 1999 in the Conference box. This will search only for those conferences on software engineering held in Japan in 1999.

Note: The Conference box allows you to search by conference name, date, description, venue and sponsor. Venue may be given as a country or a place name or both, e.g. Tokyo, Japan or just Tokyo. You may therefore not find all conferences held in a particular country, as the venue field may not include the name of the country.

Task 8: Search for the Contents Page of a Particular Journal Issue

  1. Click on New Search and select Journal Search.
  2. Type “Journal of Garden History” in the Journal Title box. Remember to use quotation marks; otherwise you are searching for Journal AND Garden AND History in any order in the journal title.
  3. Type 15 1 in the Volume/Issue box. This searches for volume 15 issue 1.

Note: you must enter the volume and issue numbers in the order they appear in the records. Some journals will only have an issue number.

Your results will list all of the articles for one issue of the Journal of Garden History.

  1. Click on New Search and select Journal Search.
  2. Type Lancet in the Journal Title box and 9503in the Volume/Issue box to find the contents page of that issue.

Task 9 Access the Full Text of an Article

  1. Click on New Search and select Journal Search.
  2. Type “British Medical Journal” in the Journal Title box.
  3. Type 324 7351 in the Volume/Issue box. This tells the search engine to find Volume 324 Issue 7351.
  4. Select No. 1 “Thinking the unthinkable / Bhutta, Z. A.; Nundy, S” from the brief record display to view in the full record display.
  5. Select the first of the three further options: the link text that you will see here will depend upon the institution that you are from, but it will refer to accessing the full text of the article.

Note: If your institution has an OpenURL Resolver, this will provide links to relevant electronic services, and will include links to the full text where your institution has access rights. If your own institution does not have a Resolver, you will have a link to Copac, which will enable you to locate libraries that hold the journal.

Task 10: Create a New Alert List

Note: members of some institutions may be automatically signed in to Zetoc Alert when on-campus.

  1. Click on Zetoc Alert.
  2. Search or select your organisation from the drop–down menu and click Go.
  3. Enter your email address in the box provided.
  4. You can give your Alert list a name. If you do not give your list a name, the system will automatically generate one for it. Note: Members of some organisations will be given an automatically generated name; you must remember this list name in order to modify the list in future.
  5. Select the Create button to create your list.
  6. You will receive information about your list, including its name and the date it will expire. All Alert lists are set to expire 12 months from the date the list was created, but you can renew a list at any time.
  7. At the bottom of the screen you will see the options to Add Journals and Add Searches to your list.

Task 11: Add Journals to your Alert List

  1. Click on the link to Add Journals to your Alert list.
  2. You may select journal titles for inclusion in your list one of three ways:
screenshot of selecting journals
  1. Type Health Care into the Enter string: box.
  2. Click on the Add button to the left of the journal name. Note: the button changes to In list and the journal title appears in your list in the left–hand frame. You can only have up to 50 journal titles in any list, but you can create as may lists as you wish.
screenshot of adding journals

Task 12: Add Author and Title Searches to an Alert List

  1. Click on the link to Add Author/Title Searches to your list.
  2. In the Keywords from the Title box enter “patient care” using quotation marks. This will search for the words together and in that order.
  3. In the Author(s) box enter McLellan.
  4. Use the Add to list button to confirm that you wish to add your keywords and authors to your Alert List. Note: the left–hand frame shows you what your list contains.
screenshot of adding keywords to an Alert list

Task 13: Display/Modify Alert List Details

  1. Click on the Alert Homepage button. From here, you have a drop–down menu from which to select one of your lists.
  2. Select an Alert List and click on the Renew/Modify button.
  3. You have several options to alter your Alert List, you may:
  1. Click on the Add Journals button or on the Add Author/Title Searches button to see that you will come to the split screen page, used in Tasks 11 and 12.
  2. Click on the Renew/Modify button to go back to the Modify List page.
  3. To delete a list, click on the Alert homepage and select a list from your drop–down menu, then select the Delete button. You will be asked for confirmation that you wish to delete the List, select the Yes button if you wish to continue.
screenshot of Alert modify page

Task 14; Subscribing to an RSS Feed for a Journal in Zetoc

RSS is a format for delivering web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers offer their content as an RSS Feed.

A Zetoc RSS Feed will typically show the journal title, ISSN and publisher, together with the article titles and authors and the details of the journal issue and page numbers to keep you up to date.

To receive a RSS Feed you need a RSS reader. This is a piece of software that can check a list of feeds from Zetoc and display any updated articles that they find. There are many different versions of RSS readers, some of which are accessed using your web browser, and some of which are downloadable applications. The About Zetoc RSS page provides more information and links to further help.

  1. Click on Zetoc RSS.
  2. You can find RSS Feeds for journals by:
screenshot of Zetoc RSS page
  1. Once you have found a journal you wish to receive a RSS Feed from click on the RSS button button beside the journal to come to an XML file that contains information about the journal.
  2. From here you can choose the RSS reader you wish to use from the drop–down list at the top of the page and see an example of the content you will receive.
  3. Each citation has a link to the Zetoc full record page for that article.
screenshot of example RSS feed

Note: Zetoc RSS feeds are updated on a monthly basis. If a journal is weekly, then you will get four feeds each month. If a journal is bi-monthly (every 2 months), you will get a feed for the month that it first appears in the Zetoc database. Feeds are kept for 1 month before they are removed from the Zetoc server.

Ordering articles

All articles and papers in Zetoc are available from the British Library On Demand service. Click on the link to Buy from the British Library On Demand at the bottom of each full record record and complete a short online registration before ordering your documents.

In addition, there is a link to Request a copy from your Institution's Library, which facilitates making a document supply request.

Open Access Open Access Symbol records will have links to view the full text on the publisher website or Europe PMC from the Zetoc full record page.

Further Help

For more information and step by step guidance on Zetoc Search, check out our helpful Zetoc Search Screencast video.

Last updated: April 2018. If you have any queries, comments or suggestions about the text or examples included in this workbook, please forward them to help@jisc.ac.uk