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Online resources troubleshooting

Our electronic resources and databases should provide in-context tips and help sections on their search screens. We've also compiled some common questions and answers, as well as our own search tips and tricks that you may find useful.

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If your problem is not covered on these pages please contact the library's enquiry team at library@icaew.com.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why can't I open a PDF?

    There are a number of known issues that can affect the way PDF files open within internet browsers, preventing files from opening as intended. The solution can vary depending on the set-up of your PC. Possible solutions include:

    • Upgrading your version of Adobe Acrobat or Reader and/or internet browser
    • Changing the preferences in Adobe Acrobat or Reader so that PDF files do not display in the browser

    In some cases, documents can be accessed in different formats or through alternative download sites. If you continue to have difficulty, please contact us at library@icaew.com and we will be able to advise you if any alternative options are available.

  • Why can't I open a PDF on a Mac?

    There is a known issue with the way Firefox handles PDFs delivered through the .ashx file format on Macs. ICAEW PDF documents, such as technical releases, are delivered as .ashx files so that they can be opened by the appropriate software on different mobile and desktop devices.

    You should be able to save .ashx files to your computer and manually change the file extension to .pdf. This will not affect the content of the PDF file and you should be able to open the file as usual.

    Alternatively, you can try using another web browser.

  • I have a problem with eBooks

    Please see the separate eBooks troubleshooting FAQ for help with accessing, viewing and printing from our eBooks.

  • What should I do if I get an error message saying ‘We have been unable to validate the information provided’ or ‘We are unable to validate your login credentials’ when trying to use Business Source Corporate or EBSCO?

    There are a number of potential causes and solutions, which are outlined below.

    Does your computer or network block referral information?

    Our website gives access to online resources through a system called referring URLs – it allows you to access eBooks, online journals and databases when you click on links on certain authorised web pages. For this system to work, the details of each authorised web page (the referring URL) must be checked against our service provider's database and it will only allow access if there is a match. Sometimes the referring URL (also known as referral information) is not correctly passed on to the database and this may happen if you are using some firewall or privacy software.

    Is the referring URL correct?

    If you used a link from an email, PDF or saved bookmark to get to the page with EBSCO eBook links, the URL might contain unexpected parts that prevent the referring URL system from working.

    Common examples:

    • www.icaew.com/en/example-page
      Delete the "en/"
    • www.icaew.com/example-page?utm_source=banner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=example
      Delete all the parts after and including the question mark
    • http://www.icaew.com/example-page
      Use https instead of http

    How can I tell if my computer or network is blocking referral information?

    You can run an authentication test to find out whether your computer or network is blocking referring URLs by clicking on the link below:


    This will load a page with information that can help diagnose your problem. If there is an empty space next to "Referring URL=", this means that your computer or network is blocking referring URLs.

    Referring URLs can be blocked by firewall or privacy software or through network restrictions. Please refer to the user manual of your firewall or privacy software for information on how to allow referring URLs or contact the IT department in your organisation for help.

    Note for Google Chrome users: Due to issues with the browser, referring URLs will not work if you choose to open them in a new tab or window through the right-click menu. Links to eBooks and other electronic resources should automatically open in a new tab or window when you click on them.

    What can I do if my computer or network is blocking referral information?

    We advise you to consult the support available from your firewall or internet security software suppliers for further advice on how to configure firewalls or internet security software to allow access.

    In order to allow the referring URL authentication system to work you should permit full access to particular IP ranges and web domains. EBSCO has an up-to-date list of IPs and Domains for Firewalls, Proxy Servers, and Allow Lists.

    Please note that the LIS Enquiry Team is unable to provide technical support to help you configure your firewall software. If you still have a problem with access to our e-resources we suggest you contact the supplier of your firewall product directly.

  • What should I do if a PDF file from Business Source Corporate or EBSCO never finishes loading?

    EBSCO has launched an enhanced PDF viewer which was designed to make it easier to browse an entire issue of a journal. However, this enhanced PDF viewer appears to have caused problems for a number of users. In most cases, this results in the enhanced viewer options appearing but the PDF file itself never stops loading.

    The problems appear to affect various combinations of browsers and versions of Adobe Reader in different ways, resulting in the user being unable to view the PDF file. Upgrading to version 9 of Adobe Reader has solved the problem in most cases that we are aware of.

  • What are the minimum internet browser requirements for online resources?

    Information on the minimum browser requirements for Business Source Corporate or EBSCO can be found on the EBSCO website: Minimum Browser Requirements for EBSCO Interfaces.

    For details of the minimum web browser requirements for accessing Ebook Central, see the ProQuest support page on Supported Devices, Operating Systems, and Browsers.

    Please note that Internet Explorer has been retired and is no longer supported by Microsoft. Users attempting to access online resources via Internet Explorer are likely to encounter issues. For full functionality, we recommend using the latest version of Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox.

  • I have a different problem

    If you have a different problem with our online resources, please email the enquiry team at library @icaew.com. Please state the address of the page that you were looking at when the problem occurred, the error message that you received and any additional details of the problem to help us diagnose what went wrong.

Search tips

For step-by-step assistance with searches, saving results and other technical questions look for the help section on the EBSCO search pages.

Think about alternative subject terms

The EBSCO database is originally from the US and uses search terms that may be better suited to the US market. If your search results do not produce the number of results you would expect, consider alternative subject terms – for example, stock options rather than share-based payments.

Try a search using the subject terms you are familiar with in your country and look at the results generated. You can see the subject terms used by EBSCO by viewing the citations in your results list and this may give you ideas on how to fine-tune your search.

Use geographic terms

You can use geographic terms to restrict your search to look for results focused on a specific country. For example, to select articles focused on the UK, use the advanced search option, type ‘great britain’ in one of the find boxes and select 'GE Geographic Terms' from the drop down menu next to the box.

Search for full text articles only

You can tick the check box labeled 'Full Text' and this will exclude citations and anything other than full text reports and articles from your search results.

Use Boolean operators to create broader or narrower searches

The AND operator combines search terms so that each result contains all of the terms. For example, ‘electronic AND resources’ will find articles that contain both words.

The OR operator combines terms so that each result contains at least one of the terms. For example, ‘college OR university’ will find articles that contain either word.

The NOT operator excludes search terms so that results do not contain the terms that follow it. For example, ‘computers NOT apple’ will find articles that contain computers, but not apple.

Use wildcard (?) and truncation (*) to create searches using terms that have unknown characters, multiple spellings or various endings

A wildcard search (represented by a ?) will find all instances of your search terms by automatically replacing the ? with a single letter. Enter your terms and replace each unknown character with a ?. For example, ‘ne?t’ will find results containing neat, nest or next.

A truncation search (represented by an asterisk *) will find all forms of your terms. Enter the root of a word and replace the ending with an *. For example, ‘comput*’ will find articles that contain the words computer and computing.

Use proximity searching to create searches for terms that are near to each other

Near Operator (N): Inserting N5 will produce results if the search terms are within five words of one another, regardless of the order in which they appear. For example, ‘tax N5 reform’ will find results that would match ‘tax reform’ as well as ‘reform of the tax code’.

Within Operator (W): Inserting W8 will produce results if the search terms are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them. For example, ‘tax W8 reform’ will find results that match ‘tax reform’ or ‘tax without the ability to reform’ but will not match ‘reform of the tax code’.

Terms of use

The articles in these databases are copyright works. Unless permitted by statute or you have the permission of the copyright owner, you may not:

  • print more than a single paper copy which itself must not be further copied;
  • save more than one copy of the file.

Users are permitted to access these databases for personal use and must also comply with any other licensing or terms of use statement on the EBSCO website.

Access to these databases are given under the terms of licences and permissions held by the LIS from our suppliers and the above conditions are set by the terms of these licences and permissions.

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