Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is SFX?

At its simplest, SFX can link from a citation (the information about an article) in one database to the full text of that article in another database. When you see the SFX logo logo in the results of your search, simply click on the icon to see a menu with one or more of the following options for that specific citation:

SFX saves you time — you no longer need to write down a citation and then search the online catalog to see if the Library owns a copy. SFX does the work for you!

What does SFX stand for anyway?

SFX is an abbreviation for "special effects" and the name of a software product, purchased by the Texas A&M University System, from Ex Libris, a library automation company. SFX uses the OpenURL protocol to gather information — such as the ISSN, volume, issue, and page — from a citation in one database to link to the full text in another. For more information see the SFX web site.

Who can use SFX?

Students, faculty, and staff of West Texas A&M University, whether you are inside the Cornette Library, your office or dorm, or even away from campus.

Can I use SFX from home?

Yes! Because you will have already logged on to search the database, you will be able to use SFX. Just click on the SFX logo logo from within any database with SFX, and the SFX menu will popup.

Using SFX

How do I use SFX?

In any database that has SFX, find a citation to an article that interests you. Click on the SFX logo button or link. A new window will open with a menu of options. Click on one of those options. Another new window will open with your selection.

See our tutorial demonstrating how SFX works.

Why are there two (or more) options for the full text of some articles?

We sometimes subscribe to an online publication from more than one source. Different sources may have different formats. For example: some provide a PDF (reprint) copy, while others provide only plain text. The options on the SFX menu provide you with a choice. Also, if one online version is not working, the other options provide back-up access.

Why do some full text links say We have full text online in ... and others say Search for full text in ...?

Some databases, such as LexisNexis Academic, don't allow you to link directly to a journal article or even the journal table of contents. In those cases, you have to search the databases by the name of the journal and specific information about your article, such as the author or words from the title. We use Search for full text in ... in the link to identify those articles that you will have to search.

Why isn't the full text of the one article I really need available?

Unfortunately, not all articles are available online. It may be that there is simply no online full text available (particularly for older issues) or we may not subscribe to the online version of the journal.

Now what?

First, click the Check for print copy link to see if we have a paper or microform copy in the Library. If we do, you'll need to come into the Library to read the article or make a copy. If we do not, you can use the next link to Request this item through Interlibrary Loan. Be sure to allow 2 to 3 weeks for the item to arrive.

Why don't all databases include the SFX option?

SFX requires that a database be "OpenURL enabled" and not all of our subscriptions are. See the list of databases to find which ones are.

Problem Solving

Why can't I see the SFX menu after clicking on the SFX button/link?

SFX uses pop-up windows. If you have pop-up blocking software on your computer, the SFX menu may not show. Turn off your blocking software, and everything should be fine.

Why don't I see any buttons?

SFX uses Javascript. If you have Javascript disabled in your browser, the buttons will not show. Re-enable Javascript and everything should be fine.

I clicked on We have full text online in ... link but I only get to the journal's home page (or the table of contents for the issue). Why?

SFX will get you as close to the full text as it can. Sometimes you'll go straight to the full text; sometimes you'll have to browse or search the vendor's site yourself to get to the full text. Essentially, a full-text link means that the full text should be available -- but you may have to do some of the searching yourself.

When I click on the We have full text online in ... link, the publisher's web site or database opens, but then I get an error message. Is there full text available or not?

In most cases, these error message mean that the full text is available at the publisher's site, but that the SFX-generated link wasn't accepted. When this happens, look for a search screen at the publisher's site and search for your article. Remember that you can always refer back to the SFX menu or your original search window for the author and title of your article.

Occasionally, for very recent articles (within the past month), SFX will assume that the article has been added when it actually hasn't yet. In this case, your best bet is to try again in a couple of days. In a few cases, the article you need will no longer be available for some reason.

Please report any problems like this using the Problems? Report them using the SFX Problems Form link.

When I go back to make a second selection from the SFX menu, nothing happens. What gives?

This problem happens only in Internet Explorer. When you first click on an option in the SFX menu, IE opens a second SFX window on top of all your other windows. However, when you go back to the SFX menu and make another selection, IE reuses that window without popping it to the top. Possible solutions:

More Help

Want to see SFX in action?

See our tutorial demonstrating how SFX works.

Problems? Not getting the results you expected?

From the SFX menu, use the Problems? Report them using the SFX Problems Form link. This will help us remove similar problems in the future.

Need help picking a database? Formulating your search?

From the SFX menu, use the Need help? AskNow Virtual Reference link to go to online assistance using the library's resources.

Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at 806/651-2215.