SUNCAT service FAQ

Why do I sometimes find records which do not appear to contain the search term I entered?

SUNCAT is a union catalogue of serials, so for each serial there may be records from a number of contributing libraries. SUNCAT matches records for the same serial into a set and displays only the best bibliographic record (known as the ‘preferred record’) along with holdings information for each library. Whilst SUNCAT displays only the best bibliographic record for viewing, the search is conducted across all records in a set. If your search term is contained in one of the non-preferred bibliographic records, the serial will be included among your results even if your term is not included in the displayed record. You may also view non-preferred records by clicking on the relevant library in the "View records for" field in the full record display

Why am I not able to find information about articles on SUNCAT?

SUNCAT is a union catalogue of serials. It includes information at the serial title level. You can view the latest Table of Contents (ToCs) of a large number of serials on SUNCAT enabling you to identify articles and serial titles of interest to you. However, to search for article-level information try using a Full Text or an Abstracting and Indexing database. When you have found information about the serials that include articles you would like to view, use SUNCAT to find the UK libraries that hold these titles. Alternatively you can use SUNCAT as a starting point to locate serials in your field of interest.

Does SUNCAT contain information about electronic journals?

SUNCAT contains information about both print and electronic journals, as well as journals in other formats such as microform. It is possible to limit searches to electronic only or non-electronic journals from the advanced search page and it also possible to filter search results by format.

Why do I sometimes find holdings for serials in SUNCAT which do not appear on the library's online catalogue?

SUNCAT receives information about new titles, discontinued titles and changes in holdings from contributing libraries on a regular basis. The majority of libraries provide these data updates on a monthly basis, with some smaller libraries, who make few changes, updating quarterly or bi-annually. However, this means that the data on SUNCAT will, at times, be a little behind the holdings recorded locally. The library's local catalogue will generally be the most up to date reflection of the library's holdings and therefore we would always recommend checking this before visiting a library. Links to library websites are available on the holdings records on SUNCAT to aid quick access to the individual catalogues. The list of contributing libraries on the website also includes links to both the libraries' websites and catalogues. Please also see the FAQ on "How up to date is the information on SUNCAT?".

Why do I sometimes find records for serials which do not have any holdings information?

SUNCAT contains records from the CONSER Database, which do not represent any UK holdings but are included for their high level of bibliographic quality. When these serials are not held in the UK or when CONSER records fail to match with records from the contributing libraries, no UK holdings will be associated with these records. However, these records can be used to confirm that a serial exists. They may also be downloaded by SUNCAT contributing libraries that subsequently purchase the serial and wish to use the bibliographic detail provided as the basis for the local catalogue record.

Why do I get access to only some of the electronic journals in SUNCAT?

Most electronic journals are available by subscription. UK libraries subscribe on behalf of their users. Thus, you may access full-text only as an authorised user affiliated with a subscribed institution. Access is often regulated by IP address so if you link from a computer within a subscribed institution, you can link directly to full text but if you try to link from SUNCAT to full text from any other computer (e.g. at home), you may require a password, or access may be denied. There are also some free or open access electronic journals available on SUNCAT which everyone can access.

If I can't access an article/journal immediately online, how do I access the content?

SUNCAT contains information about which institutions hold a particular journal along with details of exactly where it is stored within the institution and the volumes/issues held. Once you have located the particular title, volume and issue you require, you can either choose to visit the institution in person or enquire about inter-library loan/document delivery services at your own institution or local library.

Before actually visiting an institution we would advise you to check if you are entitled to enter the library and use its reference and/or lending facilities. If you are a member of a UK university you could try clicking on the SCONUL Access link which appears at the top of the list of holdings on each full record display on SUNCAT. SCONUL Access is a scheme which allows many university library users to borrow or use books and journals at other libraries which belong to the scheme. If you are not affiliated with a UK university or are hoping to access an institution which is not covered by the SCONUL scheme then you can use the links to library webpages, from the list of holding institutions in each full record display, to find information about access policies.

Why do I sometimes find more than one record for the same title on SUNCAT?

SUNCAT contains records from nearly 100 libraries and therefore contains more than one record for many serial titles. SUNCAT aims to deduplicate records for the same title so that only one record appears for each, with all the libraries holding that title listed underneath the bibliographic record. However, it is not always possible to achieve perfect deduplication, largely due to the brevity of the data in some of the records supplied to SUNCAT. Therefore, a results list will commonly contain a number of records for the same serial title and each of these may have one or more library's holdings attached so it is necessary to look at each of these records to establish all the available holdings for that title in SUNCAT.

How up to date is the information on SUNCAT?

Almost all of the libraries contributing to SUNCAT send updates about their journal holdings on a regular basis. Most libraries send updates on a montly or quarterly basis depending on the size of the library and how often they make changes to their journal information. To check when a library's data was last updated go to the updates page.

Can I download MARC records from SUNCAT?

Only SUNCAT Contributing Libraries can freely download MARC21 records via a Z39.50 connection. Please note that you will require a username and password to access this connection. If you are a Contributing Library please contact the SUNCAT team ( for this information.

There is also a freely available Z39.50 connection that enables anyone to freely search (but not download MARC records from) SUNCAT. This would be a suitable connection for any library wishing to set up a search of SUNCAT from their local library catalogue or inter-library loan system.

Everyone can also view MARC records on SUNCAT and it is possible to email brief and full details of records, although not in MARC format.