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October 17, 2005

Reference Desk OAQs: Finding Online Journal Articles

Q. I want to find a journal article online, and I have the journal name and some other bit of information (such as author, title, or issue), and yet I can’t find it.

A. This is a common question, and a simple search and retrieval can be significantly hindered if the citation information isn’t exactly right.

First, I would go to the library homepage and select the Online Research Resources (ORR). Make sure the ‘All Resources’ tab is selected and type in the name of the journal. If you come up with no results, check your spelling, check your source of information, and drop any excessive words (i.e., The, A, And). Still nothing – you’re going to have to a) check the regular online catalog (we may carry the journal in print and not electronically), or b) ask the nearest friendly reference librarian.

If you’ve lucked out and the ORR produced some results, you’re ahead of the game. Many of our journals are duplicated in different databases (typically with different ranges of coverage) – if you know when your article was published, you can select the listing with the right amount of coverage. If you don’t know when the article was in the journal, select the database with the largest time span. Once you’re here, you can search by author, keyword, or date (among other choices), and you’re probably set.

If, however, you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, my last two tricks are these:

1) Look in the plain old online catalog. Online articles are super convenient, but sometimes even when you think you’ve got the article, you can end up with only an abstract. If the online catalog says we have the journal title, usually that means that it’s really physically there – it’s worth a look, even if it is a last resort (and it’s way in the depths of Main Stacks).

2) Go to the Library Site Map, and find the Health Sciences Library webpage. Because UIUC doesn’t have a medical school, our Health Sciences library is run through University of Illinois – Chicago, and while we are both part of the same outfit, UIC’s online journal coverage is slightly different than UIUC’s. Sometimes that difference is significant, especially when our coverage of a journal only goes back to 1987 and they have full-text back to 1980. At some point the server will ask for identification to make sure you’re part of the University of Illinois system. I can’t promise that UIC is going to have something that UIUC doesn’t, but sometimes you luck out.

Erin G.

Posted by at October 17, 2005 1:31 PM Posted to Reference Desk OAQs