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Library Research Support: Researching at a distance

Support for Research Staff & Research Students

Overview - Researching at a distance

If you are working away from Durham University, for example if you are registered as a part-time or distance research student, on fieldwork or writing up your thesis at a distance there are a number of library resources available to you.

  • Document Delivery and Postal Loan services to get you what you need, at your desktop wherever you are.
  • Services such as Sconul Access, to provide you with access to other UK university libraries.
  • Tools such as viaDurham for accessing our subscription content (e.g. journal articles) online, wherever you are based.
  • Tools such as UnPaywall and Google Scholar Button for finding and locating open access content.
  • Core services such as your Library Account and Eduroam.

Inter-Library Loans

Postal Loans

                Bill Bryson Library

Using Other Libraries

Researching at a Distance

Your Library Account

Your Library record is available online via the Library Discover and the Library Guide to Borrowing.

From your Library account you can:

  • Check which items you have on loan, and when they are due for return (note, standard loan items will auto-renew for 12 months, but may be recalled before this time by another use).

  • Pay any outstanding charges (of at least £1) online (from your Library account); charges may include fines for late return of items which were reserved by another user.

See Borrow, Renew and Reserve: Your Library Account pages for further information.

Please remember that a book can be recalled at any time and you will have to return it within one week. You will be emailed at your Durham email address to inform you of the revised date. If you are not in Durham or Stockton you will be expected to return the book by post. Charges may apply for late returns*.

Accessing full-text off campus and OA scholarly output

There is an increasing drive, from academics, research funders and national governments, to increase the access to scholarly output to all, without the barriers of paywalls and subscription access.

If you find an article we do not subscribe to, before you use services such as our Document Delivery Service, it may be worth checking to see if there is a version of the article available online for free. There are a number of tools available to you to help identify and access open access versions of publications, or simply to make it easier accessing content we do subscribe to from off-campus.


viaDurham is a simple button you can add to your web browser which simplifies the login process off campus when you are on a journal’s web page, so that you don’t need to leave the page and find your way back from the Library website.

It won’t work for everything, and won’t give you access to content we don’t subscribe to, but it will save you a huge amount of time (we hope) for a huge proportion of the over 20,000 journals we do have subscription access to.

The video below shows how it works, and how to get it on your own computer (you cna find the link, and instructions, for installing in your browser in the respective tabs in this Guide).


UnPaywall is a free service which collects information on open access versions of academic research published globally, from over 50,000 journals and open access repositories.

The video below demonstrates how their free browser extension works to find an open access version of an article you have landed on but cannot access; the video then also shows you how to install the tool, which can be accessed here.

Unpwayall also provides a free REST API and Simple Query tool which you can use to check up to 1,000 DOIs at once to find out their open access status and a location for an open access version of those publications.

Google Scholar Button

Watch our short How to use Google Scholar Button video, which introduces the free browser tool which can help you find academic publications related to anything you find online.

Usernames & passwords

Most resources provided through the library will require your CIS username and password to access.

There are some resources that do not make use of this method of authentication when off-campus. This is highlighted on the library catalogue entry for the resource. You will then need to check the list of passwords and enter them into the prompt box when accessing it.

If you are still having problems and believe that you should have access to a resource, please contact the Library via our LibChat service.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a quick, simple and freely accessible search engine for searching across a broad range of mostly scholarly publications. The guidance provided here is to help you make the most of Google Scholar when using it off campus and not connected through the university VPN.


Google Scholar: Library Links

Make sure that when you use Google Scholar, it recognises you as a member of Durham University. This will make accessing the full text of articles, in particular when off-campus or not logged in to the university network.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on Library Links
  3. Search for and add Durham University Library - Durham ConneXions
  4. From any search results screen, click on the link for Durham Connexions next to an article to be taken tot he correct login page to access subscription content.

Google Scholar: How to access Open Access versions of pay-walled papers

Google Scholar will often link to and identify multiple versions of papers, although will not always display them in your initial search results page. If you find a result but it is locked behind a paywall, try clicking on the versions link below the result in your Google search page to see if it has found any manuscript versions in an open access repository or on an author's personal web pages which you can access.

Google Scholar: Click on Versions below each result



Durham is part of EduRoam. Wherever you see ‘eduroam’ appear in your list of Wi-Fi networks, you can get online. More than 10,000 eduroam hotspots are available at universities, research centres, academies, many schools, and other research and education institutions in more than 100 territories around the world. 

See the EduRoam pages for further information on using this service to get wi-fi access at participating institutions and other locations.