Getting Started with Academic OneFile

Gale Academic OneFile

Academic OneFile is a periodicals database for mainly an academic audience, as compared to Gale OneFile: News, a periodicals database for mainly a general one. In Academic OneFile, about 80% of the active, full-text magazines and journals are academic whereas, in Gale OneFile, only about 25% of them are.

Though journals and magazines are the most substantial part of Academic OneFile, the database also includes newspapers, newsletters, books and videos.

How to access Gale Academic OneFile

  1. Go to and enter 'Academic OneFile' in the search box 
  2. Click on Access Online under Academic OneFile 
  3. Enter your library card number and PIN
  4. Click on 'Continue'


The latest available issue of a magazine or journal varies by title. Some titles have no embargo, some have embargos of a few weeks, a few months or a year. An "embargo" is the delay between appearing in print and appearing in Academic OneFile.


The subjects covered by the database are the sciences and social sciences. The sciences are biology, chemistry and environmental science. The social sciences are criminal justice, economics, history, marketing, political science and psychology.

Discipline selector

Coverage of the social sciences will tend to represent a U.S. rather than a Canadian point of view. While about 34% of the active, full-text magazines and journals are published in the U.S., only about 3% are published in Canada.

Related Resources

Other Toronto Public Library periodicals databases for mainly an academic audience are JSTOR (arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities) and SAGE Journals (health sciences, social sciences and humanities, materials sciences and engineering, life and biomedical sciences).


Basic Search

You can do a Basic Search or an Advanced Search. When you do a basic search, results can be numerous and you need to filter them to make them manageable. Filtering can also make them more subject-focused.

Results are sorted by:

  1. audience (Academic Journals, Magazines) and format (Magazines, Books, News, Images, Videos), the default sort being Magazines; and
  2. relevance or newest/oldest, the default sort being relevance 

You can filter by:

  • Publication Date, entering a date range or selecting Past Week, Past Month or Past Year. This is useful when currency of information is especially important in the subject
  • Subjects, which are useful for improving the subject-focus of the results. See also the Topic Finder filter, which filters results by keyword; and the subject-searching possibilities in Advanced Search and in Subject Guide Search
  • Document Type, which is useful for limiting the results to a genre of information, e.g. Article, Brief article, Report
  • Publication Title, which could be useful for limiting results to a relevant point of view. E.g. if you're researching a science subject, you might select science titles rather than business titles
  • Search Within, which allows you to combine your original basic search with an additional basic search

Topic Finder

Topic Finder is a visual alternative to using the Search Within. It can be especially useful when you can't think of additional words to filter with.

In the picture below, Topic Finder has been applied to a basic search for "arctic warming."

Topic Finder

The differently coloured "tiles" represent keywords derived from the titles, subjects and first 100 words of your top results. When you select a tile, the tiles for subtopics under it show; or, if there aren't any subtopics, a short list of search results displays.

Advanced Search

When you do an advanced search, you can apply ahead of time many of the filters that you apply afterwards when you do a basic search (and that, in an advanced search, you can also apply afterwards).

One filter that is unique to advanced search is the Publication Subject filter (as opposed to the Subjects filter, which filters by article subject).

E.g. you can search "keyword = arctic warming" and, in Publication Subject, limit results to publications in a specific discipline, like Environmental science or Oceanography. Type the first few letters of the discipline. A list of options will appear:

Filtering by publication subject

But the great advantage of doing an advanced search is being able to do multiple searches at the same time, bring multiple searches into Boolean relations (AND, OR, NOT) and search specific fields (e.g. subject, title, author). 

E.g. since arctic warming falls under both the subjects Climate change and Global warming, you can do an advanced search "subject = Climate change OR subject = Global warming AND keyword = arctic warming" to improve the subject-focus of the results.

Subject Guide Search

When you do a basic search, you can filter by the subjects assigned to an article and, when you do an advanced search, you can also filter by the subject of the publication. When you do a Subject Guide Search, you can filter by aspects of a subject.

E.g. "keyword = arctic warming" can be filtered, in a basic search, by the subject Climate change and, in an advanced search, by the publication subject Earth Sciences > Climatology.

In a subject guide search, you can combine the subject Climate change with subdivisions like Causes of, Forecasts and trends, Models, Political aspects, and Research. 

Publication Search

Publication search can be used to do search within a specific publication. But you can do this both in a basic search by applying a Publication Title filter and in an advanced search by searching "keyword = arctic warming AND publication title = Nature."

Use Publication Search, instead, to find out when a title is full-text (Nature is full-text starting in 2000), what the embargo period is (365 days, for Nature), place of publication, frequency of publication, etc. Select an issue to see the contents. Contents are not, though, listed in page order.

Nature journal


Browse publications by selecting Publication Search, then selecting List All Publications (above the search box). Filter the list by Publication Subject, audience, place of publication, language, etc. Note that here the publication subjects aren't as specific as they are in advanced search.

Browse the topics under a specific science (e.g. biology, chemistry) or social science (e.g. criminal justice, economics) by selecting a science or social science on the homepage, then a topic. This does a Topic Search, which is equivalent to searching by subject in advanced search.


These tools appear at the top left of the article.

Tools: translation, change font size, listen

  1. Translate. Does a machine translation of the article into another language. Selecting this tool also enables you to change the interface language.
  2. Decrease font size.
  3. Increase font size.
  4. Listen. Reads the article or highlighted parts of it aloud. Will not read an article longer than 190,000 characters, which is about 30,000 words. Will not read more than 1,000 words of highlighted text. Translated articles can also be read aloud. Audio may be downloaded from the audio dashboard to an MP3 file.

These tools appear at the top right of the article.

Features: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Email, Download, Print

  1. Send to Google Drive.
  2. Send to Microsoft OneDrive.
  3. Email. The text of the article, with citation, is included in the body of the email.
  4. Download. Downloads article as a PDF, which is sometimes a reproduction of the format of the journal or magazine and sometimes a machine-generated PDF.
  5. Print.

These tools appear at the top right of the screen.

Cite, Send to, Download, Print, Get link, Highlights and notes

  1. Cite. Shows citation of the article, which is also visible at the bottom of the article when it's emailed, downloaded or printed.
  2. Send to. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or email.
  3. Download.
  4. Print.
  5. Get Link. Shows URL for the page, which (copied into an email, for example) works even when you're no longer signed into Academic OneFile. This tool is also at the top right of the search-results screen.
  6. Highlights and Notes. Shows highlighting and annotation you've done. Select "View All Highlights and Notes" to display only highlighting and notes, with linked article title and citation. This tool is also at the top right of the search-results screen. Displayed will be the highlighting and annotation you've done in the articles in the results. You may send, download or print the display.

These tools appear at the bottom of the screen.

Footer navigation showing links

  1. About the publisher.
  2. Help. Context-specific, e.g. selected when you're on the homepage, the homepage is the topic; selected when you're on the Advanced Search page, Advanced Search is the topic.
  3. Dictionary. Search box for Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (2003). Selecting (double clicking) a word in an article will cause the definition to appear in a pop-up window. For words that have entered English later than 2003, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.
  4. Contact Us. Leads to a Resource guide for Academic OneFile.

For more information or for help, please contact our Answerline service.