Looking for ways to gain access to academic journals
January 9, 2014 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Are there ways of gaining access to a broad range of journals? I miss my access via the University library and am trying to find a way to legitimately gain access to papers.

I would like to be able to download the full text or PDF where ever I have a wifi connection, I'd like to have access to more than just the Journal of Biological Chemistry or Nature, and I would like to find something that costs less than $1000 a year.

The local universities have programs that allow one to gain access to journal databases when one is present in the library but do not allow non-students to VPN in for access. These are typically $300 a year, so affordable but not as convenient as I would like. I could grab a volume or two of a journal and load it to a thumb drive for later reading, though I'm not sure that it would be allowed.

I have looked into ResearchGate and while the idea of renting papers is attractive (I can just paraphrase the salient points for my own use in notepad), I'm unsure as to whether or not one can 'return' the rented papers in order to not use up the monthly allowance of papers.

Does anyone know of a University library program that allows for VPN access for less than $1000 a year or a service that allows for access to a broad range of life science journals for a reasonable price?
posted by Slackermagee to Technology (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Does your alma mater allow alumni this privilege? It's not universal, but some universities do this.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2014

As a member of my university alumni association, I have access to JSTOR and EBSCO journals.
posted by kat518 at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: Sadly, it looks as if my alma mater restricts JSTOR and EBSCO journal access to current students, faculty, and staff.

Quick edit: meant to say DeepDyve and not ResearchGate.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2014

I could grab a volume or two of a journal and load it to a thumb drive for later reading, though I'm not sure that it would be allowed.

I don't think that a volume or two of a journal at a time would be problematic, though some math/science journals are more stringent in their user requirements.

Does anyone know of a University library program that allows for VPN access for less than $1000 a year or a service that allows for access to a broad range of life science journals for a reasonable price?

No, sorry. That's usually restricted by the contracts and licenses of the journals (and most contracts are based on the number of users.) There probably a lot of security issues around issuing permanent accounts to university systems for non-affiliated users but I'm sure someone has more direct experience with that. (For example, our JSTOR alum access is administered through the alum office, since those users are no longer in our system; I don't know how it works on other campuses. We allow temporary guest access on campus only.)

Have you looked at all at local public libraries? Many of them have some JSTOR packages at least, and if you're still in Vienna I wouldn't be totally surprised if more of them had more advanced database access. Unfortunately ILL is great for one-off articles that you might need but virtually useless for entire volumes, given copyright restrictions. I suppose you could also look at local community colleges and see what library access they have and how much access you would have if you took a class every semester or so-- that might be the closest to the $1000 budget unfortunately. I hope someone has more optimistic resources!
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2014

From a friend of mine:

Have you looked at Udini? I used to work there, but it sounds like they offer what you are looking for. You can sign up for free and search around to see what they have and you also get 5 free articles (there are limitations which articles you can get for free), and after that they have different plans where you can either pay by the article or get access for a monthly fee, etc.
posted by dame at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2014

Check your public library. Here in MA, anyone with access to the Minuteman Network can get full JSTOR access through the Boston Public Library.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:23 AM on January 9, 2014

Nthing that local public libraries are a great resource for this. Many have access to JSTOR and other databases (such as ProQuest), and you can often access from home if you're in a larger community. I'd call the reference desk of your local public library to find out what's available.
posted by RogueTech at 10:47 AM on January 9, 2014

I don't have a perfect answer to your question, but in my experience the best way to search for journal articles (especially if you don't have subscription access) is Google Scholar. It's good about finding open-access articles, and about finding links to publicly-available copies of closed-access articles. And if you do get a subscription, in my experience it is able to magically integrate with that by giving you links to access the article through whatever portal you are using.

It's not the same as having a proper journal subscription, but in my experience it's the next best thing.
posted by Scientist at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: I'll be stopping by my local library tomorrow then to see what they have available.

While DeepDyve allows for downloads of the generic (to be a overly harsh about it) journals, it lists article that it claims to have access to as being 'preview only'. So technically they have access to some of the content... bastards.

Udini goes one better, under the membership details it lists 'standard articles' as being free with membership and 'specialty articles' (books, dissertations, etc) as being 20% off list price. Except there's a third category when you actually run a search listed as 'premium articles' (basically anything from the prestige journals like Nature or PNAS) which still appears to require payment per article. I don't know for sure, as I'm not shelling out $60 for a membership to something that might ask $30 per paper I want to read.

Thanks for the suggestions so far everyone!
posted by Slackermagee at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2014

Note that some public libraries will issue cards to people who don't live in the area, which can be useful if your local library doesn't have the subscriptions you need. Some more details here.
posted by pont at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For physics/math stuff there's ArXiv

For biomedical stuff you can use the PMC archive.

And between Google Scholar and Pubmed you can look things up.

None of these are perfect, but it does get you some access.
posted by overhauser at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2014

The Library of Virginia has some remote database access for residents, they may be willing/able to send you specific articles you can't access remotely, too.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 12:28 PM on January 9, 2014

Are you a member of a professional association that might include access to JStor or other important databases as a perk - or at least as an add-on?

It looks like you're in the sciences, with which I'm not as familiar, but the big organization in my own field (the College Art Association) just launched a scheme like this for members who don't have institutional access to JStor. If not, I'd imagine that the cost of joining such an association and adding that (if it's an option) would still be far less than $1000.
posted by Austenite at 5:46 PM on January 9, 2014

This is, unfortunately, near-impossible to do. The publishers are jerks.

Have you considered taking a low-stakes class every other semester or so from one of your local universities? You can often retain active student status within a school's system if you take as little as one class a year.
posted by rockindata at 6:06 PM on January 9, 2014

JSTOR has a new program called JPASS that is probably worth looking into.
posted by meindee at 6:46 PM on January 9, 2014

For the price one credit course at your local community college, you can have access.
posted by hworth at 8:03 PM on January 9, 2014

Hope that your visit to your FCPL branch was useful. I'd also recommend visiting the reference desk of one of the regional branches such as City of Fairfax. With just your library card number, you can access Cengage's Expanded Academic ASAP from home. I filtered on "Science and Technology" journals with full text option, and it returned 302 results. Some of the journals are embargoed for a specific time period (example: past 365 days) and return only abstracts for the previous year, but do have full text results prior to that. The ones that I sampled also included an audio option. Let us know if that is what you are looking for.
posted by apartment dweller at 7:09 PM on January 10, 2014

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