13 February 2014

Tip of the Week! Online Access to Full-text Journal Articles

Image credit: Ell Brown, via Flickr
If you are a researcher who does not have ready access to a library's subscription databases, getting your hands on the full-texts of academic journal articles can get expensive quickly, with the pay-per-view price for individual articles often running in the $30 range.

Last year, I listed a few suggestions in this post for how to deal with this issue, but since this is an ongoing problem for a lot of information seekers in the forced migration community, I thought I'd share some additional thoughts about other possible ways to secure free or inexpensive online access to journal articles.

When you need immediate access:

1. Always search on the title/s of the journal article/s you are interested in. As authors become more familiar with Open Access (or are being required to provide OA to their work by their funders), they are increasingly making eprints of their journal articles available either through some kind of institutional archives or subject repository (like SSRN) or through their personal home pages.

2. Go to the web site of the article you want and try out the link to the full-text. You'd be surprised, but every now and then, it will take you to the full-text without requiring you to log in/pay first! Why? Depending on the publisher, sometimes free access is provided on a temporary basis for promotional reasons, yet that free access won't necessarily be advertised or highlighted in an obvious way.  So always take the time to click - you might get lucky!

3. Try DeepDyve. This is an online rental service for scholarly articles.  You can sign up to preview articles for free for five minutes; if you determine you want an article, then you can "rent" it for a relatively low fee. The downside: no printing or saving is possible.  For more info on this service, read PCWorld's review and this Scientific American blog post.

Planning for future access:

1. Alumni benefits:  Check with the library of the educational institution you graduated from to see if alumni are granted online access to any journal databases.  This will depend on each library's licensing agreements, but it's worth inquiring.  (For example, I was surprised to learn that as a Georgetown University grad, I have access to a variety of information resources!)

2. Join a professional association.  Membership benefits can include discounted rates for journal subscriptions or free/cheap access to the journals published by that association.  See, e.g., the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM). If your association or network does not currently offer this type of benefit, consider lobbying them to negotiate with journal publishers on behalf of their membership.

3. Promote Open Access!

If you are an independent researcher, please share your strategies for accessing full-text journal articles!

Tagged Tips.

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