Help me read magazines online more comfortably.
February 24, 2007 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Is there an easier way to get the current issue of a magazine journal from a database such as Lexis Nexis?

I would like to read some magazines such as the Economist on my computer. I am a college student and have access to them through journal databases such as Lexis Nexis and Expanded Academic ASAP so I don't want to buy a subscription. But I find the purchased magazine in its electronic form much more convenient to read.

The problem with the journal database is that it is designed for searching and scholarly work, so the simple task of downloading this month's magazine to flip through requires navigating in and out of the database for each article and clicking the "full text" link. I'd like to spend less time on the website and more time reading. Is there a way to automate this process? (through greasemonkey or imacros for example).
posted by alex3005 to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: To explain what I currently find frustrating. For Lexis Nexis, I have to go to first to get the headlines of the current issue. Then I have to type the headline into the Lexis Nexis search box to get the article, and click through twice to download it. I have to repeat this for each article.

The Expanded Academic's interface is slightly better in that I can go to "Publication Search" and get results of articles from the same Volume number. However, the website has a very slow response time. It also outputs the title of 20 articles at a time, so I have to go through different pages to get the whole edition. I also have to click-through each article title.
posted by alex3005 at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2007

For fairly common publications such as The Economist, your college library almost certainly has the latest issue(s) available for browsing in its periodicals section. Why not read the deadtree version there, and you can pull particularly interesting articles from Nexis or Expanded Academic for your archives if you'll want to refer to them again later?
posted by zachlipton at 6:21 PM on February 24, 2007

Though not exactly kosher, various bittorrent sites regularly have the latest editions of various popular magazines available for download in pdf format, with The Economist being one of them.
posted by sk381 at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2007

many colleges and universities list all of the journals and periodicals they might have direct electronic access to. you might want to check that. they usually offer access to university affiliates.
posted by kendrak at 7:45 PM on February 24, 2007

In Lexis, you can go to the individual publication you're looking for (if your Lexis is like my Lexis, there is an option for this under "News and Publications"). Then just put in the date range that will include the date you want (choose within the week, or month, or whatever). If you leave the box blank, it'll give you all the articles from that issue. You still have to read individual articles, but you would at least be able to see the headlines through Lexis and not have to look them up. If that makes sense.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:10 PM on February 24, 2007

Specifically to your question: Is there a way to automate this process? (through greasemonkey or imacros

I can't find anything in the standard Greasemonkey script repository or publicly announced on other sites, but a Google search shows other requests similar to yours (maybe they are your requests, I dunno). However, what you want sounds like really simple stuff. Greasemonkey, and probably iMacros, can easily do tasks like this: basic automation of browser interactions is trivial to implement using Greasemonkey. So the answer is a definite yes, you can automate the process. That's a lot of what they do and why they exist.

It sounds simple enough that I would look at what's involved in getting a working script for you, but I don't have a LexisNexis account. However, if you program, writing a script yourself wouldn't be hard. If you don't program and still want to go an automation route, people who code custom scripts are available, I've seen mention of script-oriented sites about the net. Or, a couple of people around MetaFilter do custom scripts for what appear to be reasonable rates; if you express an interest, they'll probably find you.

As a GM alternative, from its feature write-up iMacros should do the work without the programming muss or fuss. No personal knowledge of or experience with it myself.
posted by mdevore at 8:20 PM on February 24, 2007

You need to use the saved search or clipping function of either westlaw or lexis. Construct a search to find the last n days of articles from the particular source, and configure the service to run once every n days and email you the results.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:56 PM on February 24, 2007

Response by poster: Monju: I can't find the clipping function in "Lexis Nexis Academic." Maybe only the law school versions of Lexis Nexis and Westlaw support these features.
posted by alex3005 at 10:16 PM on February 24, 2007

Best answer: I'm a librarian at an academic library. Our licenses to electronic databases are pretty standard issue, and they all prohibit "systematic" downloading of entire issues of journals. Many have some sort of monitor in place by which they detect apparently automated requests from a single IP address. They then block that IP altogether (or in some horrible cases, all our campus IP addresses) and send us a note. We have to track down the person, or at least the responsible department, and say "don't do that". We keep a notice posted on our database listing; read it if you like, but, in any case, just know that your library is probably required to agree to something similar. A librarian at the reference desk could probably help you find the most efficient legal way to read an entire journal online, and they'd likely be quite happy to help you.
posted by donnagirl at 1:27 AM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Alex: In Lexis, I think the function is called "alerts". But the emailing function is also a good idea- if you click on the boxes to the left of results, you can choose to have all those results printed or emailed. That would also eliminate some of the back and forth.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:00 AM on February 25, 2007

Another thing to check is to see if your library subscribes directly to a magazine's electronic edition. For general interest magazines (such as Esquire, Sports Illustrated, etc), the answer is usually no. But they might for something like The Economist and almost certainly for some of the more important journals (Nature, Science). Sometimes this automatically works when you visit the site from an on campus computer, other times you have to click-through from your library's site.

One way to check is by searching your library's list of journals (which is hopefully available online). Some universities allow off campus access through use of an authenticated proxy server. You could try using that for access as well.

For example, when you go to access a database from the library's website it might take you a page like this:

Try replacing w/ the site you'd like to read and see if it works. They might have security measure in place to prevent this, but since you usually have to enter your student ID/pass word anyways...there's a good chance it'll work.
posted by timelord at 10:39 AM on February 25, 2007

My university subscribes to a large number of electronic journals that can be read this way. You should probably just contact your librarian for advice relevant to your specific library.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:56 PM on February 25, 2007

what about, "" ? If you have a library card, they have many magazines on line.
posted by tesseract420 at 1:22 PM on February 26, 2007

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