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Author Topic: Low cost access to scientific journals and studies/articles  (Read 59438 times)
New member
Posts: 1

« on: July 05, 2011, 10:05:49 pm »

Hello community.  My first post here.  Bear with me as I provide some background, otherwise skip down to the asterixed paragraph for my questions...   

It has been over 20 years since I was affiliated with a college/university.  I am planning a not-for-profit blog for consumers, medical/allied health professionals, healthcare administrators and students aimed at improving awareness of medication and patient safety issues, and providing best practice recommendations in building safer processes.  I am not planning to accept any advertising or funding from big pharma or any other for profit concerns - this really is an unbiased labor of love and a way for me to give back to my profession and the community at large. 

The content on my blog will be my own and my many years of experience in my field but will also require an an analysis and review of articles and studies from the scientific literature.  One of the hurdles I am facing is that subscription costs to journals are high (for me!) and that per article costs online are often $20-30.  For the operational model I am planning, it is proving to be an expensive proposition to purchase more than one or two subscriptions a year abased on nd one or two articles per month.

I would like to know if there are any ways to access scientific journals and articles that are low in cost and still provide immediate online access.  Questions...

1) Would it be possible to join a medical school library for instance as an individual and have online access to an unlimited number of journals? 

2) Are there any non-library subscription organizations that are able to provide access to a wide range of journals and provide articles at no additional incremental cost? 

3) Would enrolling in a university/college for say, a single course per semester as a mature student provide an opportunity to access journals and articles at low cost?

Any advice the community can give me would be appreciated.

Thanks, and my apologies for the lengthy post.
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 3,020

« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 10:25:18 pm »

With the increase in availability of open access, both in self-archived postprints in repositories and publisher branded open access articles in circulation, you could  mine that whole category for good articles as a first step. You could use PubMedCentral, a repository for archived biomedical articles as a source, and use PubMed as one of your indexes. Using PubMed will give you a pretty comprehensive searching capability.

Also see if any of the public research universities that may be near where you live offer onsite use of their electronic subscriptions. Many do allow walk in access. However, the "community borrowing programs" available at many libraries do not include access to restricted electronic content remotely.

Check with any university you have alumni privileges with-to see if there are any databases that allow alumni access.
As you mention, you can buy articles "by the drink" from publishers (too expensive). There are information brokers around who also sell searching and articles. For articles that aren't free, many public libraries will order interlibrary loan of those articles. You can even rent articles cheaply through services such as DeepDyve. Check out any local teaching hospital library and see who gets access there.

I think I might stick to open access articles if you will be linking from a blog so that readers will be able to access the full text. Of course, some articles will be embargoed for up to 12 months, but many are immediately available. With the funder mandates in place, and authors often choosing open access anyway, there is really a lot of full text free on the web now. Whether it's exactly the full text you must have will be the issue.

You mention taking classes just to get access. That is a bit much but I suppose people do it.
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 17,529

No T, no shade. Usually.

« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 10:28:33 pm »


I am indeed sorry, but I couldn't resist making this particular correction.  How many times is one given the opportunity to indicate a spelling correction using an asterisk when the word itself is "asterisk"?
« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 10:28:49 pm by systeme_d_ » Logged

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Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 5,498

« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 12:01:26 am »

Collegekidsmom has lots of useful suggestions. In addition:

* Google Scholar provides links to free copies available on the web.

* Researchers often post copies of their papers on their websites.

* Most people are happy to send a copy of their paper if you ask them.

* If you are in a big city there may be a public research library where you can access some journals onsite. For example, we here have the National Library of Australia, and when I used to live in Boston, there was the Boston Public Library.

* Collaborate on your blog with an academic who has access...
Posts: 228

« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 7:38:22 am »

I am in the same situation - I need access to biomedical research, and am unaffiliated. I found that you can join the Friends of the Health Science Library at UNC Chapel Hill at the Practitioner level for access to the AHEC Digital Library. Membership is $250. See the link below for more info (and no, I'm not affiliated other than being a very happy member).

New member
Posts: 27

« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 12:07:07 pm »

You should be able to visit any state university library and access the databases while you are in the physical library.  Access will be free, but you will have to pay for printing.  Even if you are able to pay for borrowing privileges from a local private university, you will not be permitted to access any of the library's databases remotely-that privilege is reserved for current students and faculty of the university.  Database license agreements do not permit access to these databases for those that are not faculty or students.  Alums of a university are not included in the licensing model.   Most large universities now have institutional repositories-online databases where faculty publications are maintained.  If you are in the physical library, you will be able to access this. 

You said that you were looking for science articles, but did not give the specific discipline.  If you are researching the medical or related fields, you can access the databases from the National Library of Medicine (www.nlm.gov) which not only had responsibility for PubMed and MedLine, but has some databases on chemistry, toxicology, etc.

Get in touch with your state library (not the local public library)-every state has one, located in the capital of your state.  They may be able to provide with with specifics on what you are seeking. They probably will not have access to vendors like Science Direct, but they may be able to direct you (or obtain a copy of the article via interlibrary loan) at no or minimal cost. 

Some professional associations will have conference proceedings and articles available through their websites.  Many of these associations make all their content available to their members, but it is worth a try to check.   

Yes, there are some things on Google Scholar-however, more it not on on Google Scholar than what is on Google Scholar. 

Hope this helps!
New member
Posts: 27

« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 12:15:01 pm »

@envisoneer-are you aware of NCLive?  You can access titles like JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine remotely, free of charge through NCLive.  All you need for access is a public library card from a public library in NC.  They may not have all the databases that you need (they can't match what UNC-Chapel Hill has) but you might be able to get what you need for less than the fee you are paying to the Chapel Hill Digital Library. 

Many states have similar initiatives as NCLive!

New member
Posts: 27

« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 4:13:32 am »

This is a great help to people who have an interest in these sci journals and documents, but are unable to obtain access.
New member
Posts: 20

« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 2:04:43 pm »

You can use proxy to gain free articles from other college/university.Related knowledge was discussed on Internet.You also can find proxies from internet that other persons uploaded.You may be need to check it before your using.
I would like to point out that it's illegal to use stolen usernames and passwords that are posted online.  Don't do it-- you could get caught and then be in big trouble.

You don't mention which state you are in (or if you did I missed it).  However, as several posters have indicated, many public libraries have wonderful online databases with free FT that you can access just by getting a public library card.  These really are your tax dollars hard at work!  

Also, if you search PubMed, freely accessible articles will have a link to them once you are at the record level.  

Someone mentioned AHEC, someone else also mentioned going in person to a university library.  There is also the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/network.html).  The libraries affiliated with the NN/LM may offer some additional access (not for free) that you can take advantage of.

Check with your university library, by all means, to see if alumni are given access.  They aren't at my institution, but there are some that do provide access after graduation.  

Good luck.
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