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Researching with journal articles

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Hi all, I'm trying my hand at writing some nonfiction science articles and have found some great citations through PubMed and Google Scholar. I am having a hard time getting the full-text articles though. My library didn't have them in their collection or databases. Can anyone recommend online resources where I could find full-text articles, especially science-related, that are free? I have a very active toddler who is difficult to take to libraries so I can't imagine bringing him to several academic libraries. Thanks for any help or direction you can give. Karen
#1 - August 13, 2008, 06:27 PM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

jeanne k

Guest
That's a tough one.

I recently had a similar dilemma. Have you checked out this site? I've only glanced at it, but maybe you'll have some luck:
http://highwire.stanford.edu/lists/freeart.dtl

Our local public library system doesn't have great access to online full-text articles. You could try your alma mater. There are a few (very, very few from what I've seen) universities that give alumni access to databases remotely. You may have to pay a fee for the service. Some people have access through work to more comprehensive databases like EBSCO host or more specific databases like MEDLINE. For example, my Mom is a teacher and can access them through her school's library system. Even better, my Dad is a coach at a college and has access to everything the college's library has to offer. Do you know anyone who can help you out?

Other than that, you might consider the old unreliable standby of going to the library during naptime and hoping your toddler will sleep in the stroller for an hour while you search (libraries are pretty quiet places). I've done that before with varying degrees of success. Or get someone (your husband or partner, perhaps?) to watch your little one for a couple of hours and do as much as you can. University libraries, as I'm sure you know, are often open late at night.

Good luck.
#2 - August 13, 2008, 08:00 PM

~wren

Guest
Researching has often led me to articles I'd love to read but that are on a locked site. Many times, however, I've been delighted to find that if I put a specific bit into Google -- the article's title, the author's name -- I'll come up with that very article *elsewhere* on the web.
It doesn't always work but is certainly worth trying!
I've also contacted the authors of articles directly about their work. Again, it doesn't always pan out, but I have had a little success with this, too.
Good luck!
#3 - August 14, 2008, 03:29 AM

I've run into this problem too and I have two under six.
I write mostly historical nonfiction and it's hard when I need to
get primary resources (which my local library does not have).
I took some courses this spring,
so I still have full borrowing privileges at my alma mater.
This summer I needed a couple of books at my university, so I brought them with me.
I know I was the only one pushing a stroller--but oh, well!
I've also had some luck finding articles I need online like wren said.
If possible, I chose what I'm going to write about based on the books I can get.
I also recently found a book I needed as an E-book that was available on
my local community college website.
I will have to check out highwire. That looks like a good site!
#4 - August 14, 2008, 08:25 AM
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jennienzor.blogspot.com

Shirley Anne

Guest
In today's world the libraries have what we old-timers used to call "magazine stacks" all online. If you are a library member, you should be able to log in online and get to these data bases, usually something like EBSCO Master File Premier. I've never had any problems. While a few magazines or jounals don't list the entire article, over 90% of them do. If you have any problems, contact a librarian at your branch. You should be able to do this research right from your home.

Shirley Anne
#5 - August 14, 2008, 10:05 AM

blythe

Guest
My husband is a science and medical writer, and he sometimes requests the article directly from the author. He usually interviews the author anyway, during the writing process, so he just asks if the print copy has been hard to locate. (He has to have the articles in hard copy for the fact-checker.) Of course, researchers may respond a little differently to his requests because he can usually tell them where the article will be published. If you are working on spec, it might be a tougher sell.
#6 - August 14, 2008, 11:07 AM

jeanne k

Guest
Shirley Anne has a good point. When you say that your library doesn't have the articles in their databases, do you mean that they don't give you access to something like EBSCO? If you haven't already, maybe you could sit down with a librarian and see if she can help you find the articles (or one of them if you are having trouble negotiating the databases). Of course, maybe you have already done this. If so, ignore my advice. :)
#7 - August 14, 2008, 01:15 PM

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Researching has often led me to articles I'd love to read but that are on a locked site. Many times, however, I've been delighted to find that if I put a specific bit into Google -- the article's title, the author's name -- I'll come up with that very article *elsewhere* on the web.
It doesn't always work but is certainly worth trying!
I've also contacted the authors of articles directly about their work. Again, it doesn't always pan out, but I have had a little success with this, too.
Good luck!

Yup, that's how I've done it!! Some PubMed articles are free too.
Jean
#8 - August 14, 2008, 01:26 PM
Jean Reidy
Coming soon: Pup 681, When the Snow is Deeper Than Your Boots Are Tall, Group Hug , Truman, Specs and Specs II.
Others at www.jeanreidy.com

Thank you so much for all your replies. That web link looks really great. And you all had some great ideas. I've been in touch several times with my local librarian who has been giving me ideas and databases to check but I have been having trouble getting the full-text articles still. I will try a few more things like Googling on the title or author. I just found out that I can get a library card for the NYC Public Library with remote access since I'm a NY resident so I'm hoping that will get me into some useful databases. I'll try to see what i can get as an alumni from college too.
#9 - August 14, 2008, 01:38 PM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

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Don't forget to ask if your local/state/university libary has Interlibrary Loan. I wrote most of a MA thesis relying very heavily on ILL. It's usually (but not always) free to borrow books or obtain photocopies from other libraries if they participate in it. I'd be very surprised if a university library didn't have an ILL office. This is for the US, anyway; things are very diferent in the UK, for example, as I discovered to my shock when I lived there for a while. But, come to think of it, a friend of mine on Long Island has complained--bitterly--to me that they have a very poor ILL through the libraries there. This might be a bit hit-or-miss, but ILL is definitely worth checking into.
#10 - August 14, 2008, 05:26 PM

~wren

Guest
As blythe accurately notes, "If you are working on spec, it might be a tougher sell."
A few thoughts here.
First, this is just one of the good reasons to have an author's website. Being able to direct an article's writer there -- when you're simply a name on an email or voice over the phone -- shows you have some legitimacy.
Second, I've found many adults have fond memories of kids' mags. The naturalist may well have grown up with Ranger Rick or the former Scout with Boys' Life -- and who isn't familiar with Highlights?! Mentioning a few possible markets, then, can be helpful.
Third, I've also found that adults who are passionate about their work typically *want* to share their knowledge with a new generation. Young readers may be inspired to learn more about that person's discipline -- and isn't that one of the joys of the NF writer?!
#11 - August 15, 2008, 05:48 AM

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