SFX Frequently Asked Questions


What is SFX?

SFX is a resource linking service offered by the Library that links from an article citation in a database to the online full text of the article, where available, from various sources and to other helpful and related services.

It therefore saves your time in finding out where the online or printed version of the article you want is located after you have found its citation in a database.

Who can use SFX?

All current CityU staff and students and Alumni e-Resources Service Subscribers can use the SFX service.

How do I use SFX?

Many of the major Library-subscribed databases are SFX-enabled. Start a literature search in any SFX-enabled database appropriate for your subject. You will find the SFX button/hyperlink adjacent to the individual citations at the search results screen or at the full record screen for a citation. Simply click on the SFX button/hyperlink. A menu of available options for that particular article/book record will be displayed in a new window.

How does SFX work?

When you click on the SFX button/hyperlink in a SFX-enabled database, the database provider sends an OpenURL to SFX that contains information (metadata) about the item, e.g. author, article title, publication title, publication date, volume, issue, page numbers, etc. in a structured format. SFX then uses these metadata to determine what service options to show in the SFX menu.

Why don't I see any SFX button/hyperlink in the database I am searching?

The possible reasons are:

  • The resource you are using is not SFX-enabled.
  • You have disabled JavaScript in your browser. If it's turned off, the SFX buttons/hyperlinks will not appear. Re-enable JavaScript and everything should be fine.

Which Library e-resources are SFX-enabled?

Many, though not all, of the Library e-resources are SFX-enabled. In the alphabetical and subject lists of databases, SFX-enabled resources are marked with an SFX logo SFX logo.

Examples of major e-resources which are SFX-enabled include:

  • Cambridge Journals Online
  • EBSCOhost databases
  • IEEE Xplore
  • JSTOR
  • Oxford Journals Online
  • ProQuest databases
  • Sage Journals Online
  • SpringerLink
  • ScienceDirect
  • Scopus
  • SciFinder Scholar
  • Web of Science
  • Wiley Online Library

What service options does SFX provide?

SFX linking service is context-sensitive (i.e. depending on the metadata available in the incoming OpenURL and on the Library's subscription). We try not to offer you service options that are not available. Hence, service options available in the SFX menu will vary from citation to citation. When available, the SFX menu will show one or more of the following options:

  • full text of an article or e-book
  • an automatic search of the CityU Library Catalogue
  • a search for articles by the same author in Web of Science
  • a Web search using words from the article or book title
  • a link to capture the OpenURL to the article or e-book [tips for instructors]
  • a link to SFX FAQ
  • a link to report problems with or to ask questions about SFX links

Can I use SFX from off campus?

Yes. You can use SFX from off campus either via CityLink Plus or other ISPs, just as how you access the other Library e-resources that allow remote access. Detailed information on remote access to Library electronic resources is available at http://www.cityu.edu.hk/lib/instruct/guides/eresguid/remote.htm.

The possible reasons for the absence of a full-text link in the SFX menu include:

  • That particular journal or that particular volume of it is not available electronically.
  • The Library does not have subscription to the journal or that specific volume of it.
  • The journal concerned is not covered by the SFX database yet.

Click the link "Check holdings in CityU Library Catalogue" to see if the Library holds a print version or if a link to the publication is available in the catalogue record. (See also the next question.)

When the "Check holdings in CityU Library Catalogue" link does not find anything, does that mean the Library does not hold the item?

Not always. A second search in the Library Catalogue for the title of the book or the journal might find it.

If you find that the Library does not hold the item you want in any format, you may request for InterLibrary Loan Services if you are eligible for the service.

Why are there multiple full-text links for my article?

Sometimes a journal is available in more than one resource that the Library has subscribed to, so SFX links to all of them. That way, if one of the sources happens to be temporarily unavailable, you can access the full text from another.

Sometimes when I click on a full-text link, I end up on the journal's home page or the table of contents. Why doesn't SFX link me directly to the article?

The presence of a full-text link in the SFX menu means full text is available and SFX will get you as close as possible to the article you want. However, direct linking to the article is not always possible as some resource providers do not provide linking syntax that can link directly to the article. In such cases, SFX drops you off at the table of contents or the homepage of the journal. You then need to navigate a bit to get to the article you want. Remember the citation information of the desired article is available in the header of the SFX menu under "SFX services for this record".

When I click on the full-text link, the article isn't there or I get an error message. What has happened?

There are several possible reasons:

  • There is temporary technical problem with the system hosting the full-text article.
  • If it's a recently published article, the article citation may appear in a database earlier than the publisher has made the full text available online.
  • There is a typographical error or wrong information in the citation. As SFX uses the citation information from the source database to build a link to the article, any incorrect information in the citation will make SFX unable to link properly to the full text. If this is the case, SFX may link you to the journal publisher's web site instead and you can then search for the article there.
  • The link-to syntax used by SFX to build full-text link is out-of-date because the publisher has made changes to its site.

You may use the "report problems with SFX links to the Library" link in the SFX menu to let us know about the problems you encounter.

Why do I have to log out of Web of Science and IEEE Xplore when I finish searching or viewing the full-text articles via the SFX menu?

The Library's subscription to these and many other databases allow only a limited number of simultaneous users. If you forget to log out, a login will be tied up until the session times out. Therefore, out of courtesy to other users, please log out of a database after use to make it immediately available to others.

What are the other tools available on the Library web site that are powered by SFX?

The following tools on the Library web site are powered by SFX:

  • Citation Linker
    A tool that allows you to enter the citation of an article to request SFX to check its availability against the Library's e-journal holdings. Full-text link(s) will appear in the SFX menu if the article is available online.

  • Find e-Journals
    A tool that allows you to find e-journals by title, by subject, by ISSN and by publisher. There are two searchable e-journal lists in this tool, one covering e-journals available to staff and students of the CityU main campus, the other covering e-journals available to students of the Telford Annex Campus.

    In any e-journal lists retrieved, the e-journal title links will take users directly to the e-journal home if there is only source for that e-journal. If there is more than one source, an SFX menu showing all sources will appear.

What should I do if my question is not answered here?

Please send your questions via the "report problems with SFX links to the Library" link in the SFX menu or email your questions to lbinf@cityu.edu.hk.