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Find Full-text

Getting to the full-text of an article can sometimes be tricky.

If you have access to JGH resources, make sure that you take a look at our brochure and other information located here: How to get full-text with a JGH access.

If you have access to McGill resources, make sure that you take a look at our brochure located here: How to get full-text with McGill access.

But, an access to an institution's resources is not a guarantee that you will find the full-text of all the articles that you need all the time. The objective of this page is to give you some tips on how you can try to get the full-text of an article for free online. 

If you have doubts, questions, or if you want help in locating the full-text of an article, don't hesitate to contact the library x5927. 

Search PubMed
Search Google Scholar
Search ResearchGate
Limit to open access resources
Contact the authors
Consider an interlibrary loan
Ask your librarian

  1. PubMed database 
    If you search in PubMed, click on "display options" and select "abstract". The list of results will become more detailed. Notice the icons for links to full-text. Especially those from PMC (PubMed Central) since it guarantees that the article is available in open access. Please note: a publisher can ask PubMed to add their button even if they don't provide a free access to the full-text. It is worth the try to click on the buttons, but you may be directed to a page inviting you to purchase the article.

    The same icons will also appear when you click to see the results details, at the top-right of the page.

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  2. Search Google Scholar
    Google Scholar is a good place to see if you can find the full-text of an article for free. Enter the information of an article or other resource you are trying to get access to (title, author, etc.). Once you found the resource (beware! some titles can be very similar, make sure you select the article published by the same authors, in the same journal and the same year that the one you want to find...if it is not, it could also be another interesting article!).

    Look if there is a mention of availability on the right-side of the page, like in this example (please note that you can only access an article with "Find it at McGill" if you are a McGill user. Click here for instructions on how to enable the link):


    Also, take a look at the different versions by clicking on "All [x] versions" under a result and see if you can access one of the versions.

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  3. Search the article title in ResearchGate (free subscription required)
    ResearchGate is a way of communication, similar to a social media, designed to connect researchers and make it easy for them to share and access their work and expertise. Go to ResearchGate, create a free account with your institutional email address (the level of details that you add to your profile is up to you, still, we invite you to share your work, when you can, so other researchers can benefit from it). 

    * On many levels, ResearchGate works like a social media, with notifications sent to your email, invitations sent to your peers. See below how to disable some of them. Also, ResearchGate has different components. We only cover here how it can be used to get the full-text of articles. 

    In the searchbox, change the icon of "researchers" for "publications":

    Search the article title. If you find it in the results, see if it is available for download:

    (from the page of results)

    (from the page of an article)

    Or see if you can request the full-text:

    (from the page of results)

    (from the page of an article)

    By sending a request, you contact directly one or more of the authors of the article to ask if they can send you an electronic copy. This is faster than finding the email address of one or more of the authors and write them an email to ask for a copy, which is also an efficient way to get an article. Please, don't forget to say thanks to the authors!

    How to disable notifications and invitations 
    When you register to ResearchGate, there are a lot of notifications that can get into your mailbox. To select the notifications that you want or don't want to get, go in your settings (arrow next to your profile picture) and click on "Notifications" to select or deselect notifications (by default, they are all turned on)

    Another thing you may want to avoid, is to send an email to an another inviting him or her to join ResearchGate when you click on "Request full-text" and the authors are not on ResearchGate. In your settings, go to "Invitations settings" and click on "Turn off all".

    Other notifications and invitations may be sent without you knowing. This page will be updated if more information is found by the staff of the library.

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  4. Limit your search to open access resources
    Open access is a growing trend in scientific publication and it is getting more and
    more established in the biomedical field. Open access resources are free for
    everyone. If you want to learn more about open access, see our subject guide.

    You may need to create an account to use the advanced search (ex. Biomed Central). PubMed Central index publications from various open access publishers such as Biomed Central and PLOS One.

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  5. Contact the authors
    You can try to contact the authors to ask if they can send you the full-text of an article. The result is not guaranteed, but it is worth a try.

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  6. Can't find it? Consider an interlibrary loan
    If there is no way to find an article available for free online of through the JGH access, you can ask for an interlibrary loan. For more information about the interlibrary loan service, click here. To fill the form to get an interlibrary loan for an article, click here. (please note that there is a basic fee of 3$ for this service)

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  7. In case of doubt, ask a librarian
    The librarians of the HSL are available to help you and make sure that an article is not available for free somewhere online before you ask for an interlibrary loan or dismiss the article of your search. You can send references to Kendra Johnston.(please be as detailed as you can)

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Questions? Please contact Kendra Johnston, x22453.


 Created January 12 2015, Updated April 10th, 2018