As we get closer to the start of the new year, the Academic Subject Librarians are starting to hear from students who are looking for help accessing content for their research. This post offers some tips for what do when you’re struggling to find that key article that everyone is citing…
First, as a member of the University, you never need to pay for access to academic journal articles. If you start your research on Google Scholar, find an article that looks great, but hit a paywall, try searching for the title of the article on the library website—we offer access to many, many thousands of journal articles. What we don’t have ourselves, we can often borrow for you!
Second, try installing a browser extension called Lean Library—it links up with our website and steers you towards links to access content that we pay for, but that would otherwise appear to be behind a paywall if you aren’t regularly logged into or using our site. If you are being really thorough, you might then want to…
Third, double check our library’s journal holdings. Despite the vastness of the internet, not all academic research is easily available online. For instance, you might want a digital copy of an article that was published in 1992, but the publisher has only digitised articles from 1995 to the present. A search of our journals via Electronic Journals or Browzine is an easy way to quickly check for access issues of this sort. Don’t worry if our library doesn’t offer access to an article, because we might be able to obtain it from another library for you–this is called interlibrary loans.
Finally, if a search of the internet, our websites, and our journals turns up nothing, you can request an interlibrary loan by filling out our request form. Select the type of material you want to find, ‘journal article,’ from the drop-down menu. Interlibrary loans are free for you and delivered straight to your inbox—article loans tend to arrive within 3-5 working days. The article is then yours to download, keep, and use in your research.
And there you are–in three or four steps, you have gone from not being able to access materials you need for your research, to having what you need at your fingertips.
If you are struggling to access academic content or have any questions about how to find research materials, remember that your academic subject librarian is always here to help. We can speak with you about your research by appointment (a perfect option if you have several articles you’re trying to track down or if you’d like a refresher on what databases or journals might be useful for your topic). You can also email us questions about finding material.
Best of luck with your research!