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University Library

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. Please see the following pages for more information.

Our pages for distance students may also contain relevant information.


Your Library record is available online via the Library catalogue and the Library homepage.


Accessing your library account


From your Library account you can:

  • Check which items you have on loan, and when they are due for return.
  • Renew your loaned items up to ten times, unless an item has been recalled by another user.
  • Pay any outstanding charges (of at least £5) online; charges may include fines for late return of items, or charges for document delivery or photocopy requests.

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 apply for late returns.


You will have access to all of our e-resources when not in Durham or Stockton. Please access them via the catalogue to ensure that you are given access to all the resources we subscribe to. If you try and access a database directly from a search engine it won't know how to check you are a Durham researcher. By going via the catalogue you will be asked to enter your CIS username and password, the ones used for accessing your Durham email account.

Via Durham:Sometimes you may stumble across a journal article, or be sent a direct link via email, twitter or another source, and find you are asked ot pay to access the resource. This is usually because you are off campus, and the publisher cannot tell you are affiliated with Durham, and check if you should have access via one of our subscriptions.
It can be laborious to then retrace your steps, log in through the library catalogue, and then try and find the article again.
To try and make this simpler, we have set up an off-campus bookmarklet which you can install into your web browser, which will automate this log-ion process throughthe library's proxy server to check if you should have access.
Check our ViaDurham pages for information on installing this bookmarklet to your browser.

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 e-resources enquiry service.

Durham University Library spend over £3million each year to provide you with access to scholarly publications online, and yet you will still find content in journals we do not subscribe to which you may wish to access.

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 some services which breach copyright, but we have highlighted some services and tools you can access which may make finding and accessing free full text scholarly output simpler.


Google Scholar will often link to and identify open access 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.

Google Scholar versions


You can still make use of the Document Delivery Service (DDS) while away from university as many journal articles are delivered elctronically and can be sent direct to your desktop. Books and other print material cannot be sent to you, but will be sent to Durham University Library for you to use there; you could plan this to tie in with when you are on campus.

Please note that every DDS request is paid for from the Library budget. We subsidise this cost to you as the end user, and many staff and PGR students will find that their department has agreed to pay the remaining balance. Please see the pages on current charges first before making a request if you are unsure.


If you are registered as a distance learning researcher you can ask for up to three library books to be posted to your home address. See the Postal Loans page for more information.

If you are registered as a part-time or distance learning researcher, you may also be able to make use of our Copy Service to request a journal article or chapter of a book held in stock is copied for you, and delivered to you via email.


If you are researching elsewhere in the UK or Ireland you can make use of the SCONUL Access scheme to visit, and in many cases, borrow from other univeristy libraries. More information is available from our page on visiting other university libraries.

If the library you wish to visit is not a member of the scheme or you are visiting a library outside the UK we recommend that you contact them in advance to explain the purpose of your visit. Many libraries are happy to allow visiting researchers reference-only access to their collections. If you require a letter of recommendation, the library is happy to supply one.


Durham is part of EduRoam. See the EduRoam pages for further information on using this service to get wi-fi access at participating institutions.


All University MDS machines have access to a desktop version of Endnote for reference management software. All PGR students and staff are entitled to purchase a discounted licence to install a version to their own personal machines. Please see the CIS support pages for further information.

There are however free, online alternatives.


Your Academic Liaison Librarian

James Bisset

Academic Liaison Librarian
Researcher Support

james.bisset@durham.ac.uk

0191 334 1589

Researcher 1-2-1

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