Tips on bypassing restricted access to journal articles

Doing literature research can be a pain if you can’t access the sources you need. You type in dozens of keywords to retrieve relevant articles from electronic journal databases, only to conclude, the article that you really want to have, is unavailable to you. Your university simply does not have a subscription to that journal. How to bypass this agonising restriction?

  1. Well, obviously, you could just go ahead and cite the abstract (by the way, check APA Style for how to do that!). Not the best advice to follow, though – what if they used a funny method to get the data? What if there are some controversies to your study? Better to read the whole thing, just to be sure.

Your other options are:

  1. Google it. Google the title in quotation marks. You end up with a bunch of other articles that cite it, but if you get lucky, the authors have uploaded the article to their home page or someone else has made it openly accessible. Also, tons of books are available online in Google books for example.
  2. Write to the authors. Seriously. Most scientists will be most flattered you’re interested in their work. They may even suggest you some further reading.
  3. Ask your friends’ help. Know anyone from another university? Maybe they do have access to the journal?
  4. Just switch your location, some universities provide access to databases based on your IP address.
  5. Order it from another library. Many libraries offer a service to exchange articles and books they have bought. This may cost you some, though, but it may be worth it.
  6. Ask your university library to subscribe to the journal or buy the copy of the book. It probably won’t help your situation as soon as you would like, but if there will be plenty of similar requests, they just might do something about it!