*shakes fist at Elsevier*
March 23, 2014 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading into the Army for OCS in August, but I'm still very interested in keeping current on science and the current research papers. I've devised a contrivance to keep myself plugged in and reading - a personal blog where I summarize the papers that interest me, more simply to give me a place and a reason to do it.

However, as you can imagine, the sticking point is actually finding papers to read. I've set up a few Google Scholar alerts, and I've looked over PLOS, but are there any other resources I'm missing? Or am I going about finding papers all wrong, and should just plump for Science and Nature subscriptions? My field of interest is primarily biology, which is most of the problem - if I was a physicist, this would be a snap, but I enjoy chewing on something well out of my field, too.
posted by Punkey to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The San Francisco Public Library provides online access to major academic databases like JSTOR to any California resident who signs up for a library card with them. I don't know if there are any SoCal libraries that do this, but it might be worth a try (or...road trip?). Some universities will let you pay a fee to get a library card with them, too.
posted by wintersweet at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2014

Best answer: Biology is an extremely broad field, but if you're interested in biomed stuff done in the US funded by NIH money, you can read many articles through PubMed. I'm an ecologist, and that doesn't work as well for my field, which is funded by the NSF, EPA, etc., or, obviously, for research done in other countries.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:22 AM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You should check out eLife - open access and aiming for high impact publications.
posted by pombe at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2014

Google scholar itself will give you links to pdfs where available in the right column. Most high-impact papers will have an options there.
posted by lakhim at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2014

posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:59 PM on March 23, 2014

Best answer: http://doaj.org/ is the Directory of Open Access Journals. All are freely accessible however not all are high quality articles. Basically you can llok up citations you find to see if the journal is free.

IAAMLBNYL (i am a medical librarian but not your librarian) but some army bases have libraries and subscriptions to journals. I guess you could ask your officer or a friend? If you are going as a student or to study, they might give you library access. You might also get access to a cheap full text database like Proquest through your college alumni association. This would have your Science and Nature and other big journals.

On preview, BiomedCentral is a great publishing platform. It hosts several journals from societies and universities, mostly great stuff.

Some public universities let you come in to the library and use their materials. I have worked or interned in 4 university library systems and none have offered off campus access to articles to alumni or nonaffiliates, so i would not expect to get that priviledge. They are not being mean, the contracts with the article vendors prohibit this.

To do your own searching, some tips:
Not every paper in Pubmed is free (perhaps they are thinking of PubMedCentral, a repository of articles arising from NIH funded research). You can use the free full text filter to find Open Access papers in PubMed. Do your search, look on the left side, there is a list of filters. Look for the Availability category, inside is a filter named Free Full Text. Click the words and your results will now only include free articles (including those from PLoS, BMC, PMC , and other open access journals and articles that are free for whatever reason- sometimes Nature randomly makes an article available freely for one week). Click on the title to view the abstract, on the right you will see some sort of button/ad that says "get full text " or "read it free now" or something along those lines (different providers and journals use different language) .

You used to be able to turn on something similar in google scholar but I haven't see it lately. Look in preferences-- > library links or along the limits/filters bar after you search (along the left hand side or under the search box, depending on your preferences).
posted by holyrood at 4:25 PM on March 23, 2014

Sorry, to clarify, no, everything in PubMed isn't free. I linked to the page that explains how to get access to many articles within it for free, including through PubMed Central. Using PubMed itself not unlike using Google Scholar in terms of just linking to a whole bunch of articles, some of which are free through PubMed Central, some through the publisher, and some not at all. It's just a handy clearinghouse for someone broadly interested in the biomed side of science (in the US).
posted by hydropsyche at 5:54 PM on March 23, 2014

Best answer: I don't know where OCS is located, but will you have access to a local college or university? Perhaps you could go to the library there on weekends and use the computers or internet. Every university is different, but many are set up so that you can access all the journal subscriptions merely by being on their network. That might open a lot of doors for you.

Pubmed Central is a fantastic resource for finding free articles, given that all NIH-funded work is required to be posted there. Unfortunately for your situation, the law allows for one-year publishing embargoes on Pubmed Central, meaning that if you are really interested in reading current (meaning breaking news) articles then you may not find them on PMC.

As a science journalist, I wouldn't personally recommend shelling out for Science and Nature subscriptions, in no small part because they're pricey. The reason you are always hearing about articles in Science and Nature is because those journals have huge PR teams making sure that you hear about their articles. I get weekly email packages with advance copies of articles, explanations of the articles for lay readers, and publication-friendly images to republish in my articles. It makes it very easy to spread buzz about their content, and it works.

There are lots of great articles in other journals like PLoS or more specialized journals that are pretty interesting and important, but they just don't have the same PR force behind them. I suspect you will have no shortage of interesting articles in the Open Access style-journals, but you may have to look a little harder to find them.

Additionally, even for subscription-only content, abstracts are freely available for you to decide if an article is worth reading. All articles should have the email address of a corresponding author who you can contact. In my experience, most (though not all) individuals are happy to send a copy of their work. I recommend using a .edu email address if you have one, even if it's an alumni domain.

Similarly, try making a profile on a site like ResearchGate. Many individuals archive their articles there for other academics, and there's a "request full text" button that will ping all the co-authors who are members of the site to provide a copy of the article. Odds are that someone will send you a copy.
posted by wondercow at 6:34 PM on March 23, 2014

Best answer: Between the resources above and the base library (if you are attending Naval Station Newport) you should be covered - they have tons of bio journals.
posted by Brent Parker at 9:12 PM on March 23, 2014

Best answer: My mistake, I read Navy, not Army. I can't find the link for Fort Benning's library right now, but I would imagine that that had to have access to the common databases at the library. It is a higher institution of learning after all.
posted by Brent Parker at 9:19 PM on March 23, 2014

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