July 14, 2008 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Medfilter: For those of you who are familiar with PubMed, is there some super-secret way to access the full articles on that site, or is it just abstracts?

Would appreciate it especially if people such as ikkyu2, who do stuff in related fields to the one in which I am a student, could respond. I don't know about whether there might be differences in occurrences of journal articles online.

I have a lot of other resources I can use, of course, it's just that PubMed can be specialized and I know many people sing its praises.
posted by kldickson to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If I am longed in to my school's library proxy server (ask your library) most articles have links to the full-text versions on whatever databases my school subscribes to. It's amaaaaaaazing.
posted by melissam at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2008

Check your public library if you don't have academic access. My public library gives me online access via my account to a ton of resources like PubMed.
posted by dejah420 at 2:13 PM on July 14, 2008

What school are you affiliated with? Check the school's library web site for information about off-site proxy access to electronic journals.

Penn and UW, for example, have the user log in with his or her network ("school") ID and password, so that articles become available when visiting Nature, Cell, etc.

Some articles are available on a per-article basis for free, but this depends on the journal and age of the reprint, etc. You might get lucky and have a link to this from the PubMed page, but there are no guarantees.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on July 14, 2008

The articles that have either green or orange (or both) banners on the icon next to them are free full text. Click on the icon to view.

Your library should be able to link their journal holdings to articles, you'd need to check with them.

Otherwise, you'll need to bring the complete citation to a library you have privileges at and have them either show you how to retrieve them or get them for you.

The more lead time you give yourself and your library to get articles, the less stressed you’ll be.

Bottom line is that high quality, authoritative information costs a lot and can be difficult to manage.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:15 PM on July 14, 2008

What story do you get from your school librarians? I think PubMed is largely just and index (though it looks like they now have the full text of papers on work funded by NIH), but I think the data is freely available, and therefore may be integrated with the systems universities use for managing access to online journals.
posted by Good Brain at 2:16 PM on July 14, 2008

Hmmm. It doesn't say where you are in your profile but if there is a university near you that has a program related to the journal you are interested in, they may have access set up via IP address that just lets you in if you are coming from an activated IP address. So, go the library, sit at a terminal if you can, and try it out.

Or do what everybody else does: If you know how to contact the author, ask him or her for a pdf. Publishers frown upon it but it happens ALL THE TIME. They will most likely give it to you because the more people that read the article, the more likely it will be cited, driving up the author's citation rank/eigenfactor.
posted by chillmost at 2:20 PM on July 14, 2008

What everyone else said. PubMed is an index. You'll need an institutional subscription to view most articles. Check with your school or library.

If you don't like paying for access to research funded by your tax dollars, support the Open Access movement.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:39 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's not a know-how problem, it's a copyright issue. I would be extremely surprised if any library had its digital library available through wifi. They would need to pay for all potential users to do so.

PubMed is a database, and a pretty sophisticated one. I highly recommend their tutorials. They collect abstracts from a select number of journals indexed by the National Library of Medicine. It's a case of your tax dollars being spent wisely!

Within PubMed is an open access repository, PubMed Central, which is available free of charge. These are articles funded by NIH, or self-archived by open access proponents. There is a British affiliate, and there may soon be a PMCC, PubMedCentral Canada.

At the risk of sounding like a real library geek (which I am), these are exciting times.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:17 PM on July 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

(PS the icons that c'est moi is referring to are not part of pubmed; they are put there by the library providing access to journals. )
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2008

A public library or even a university library is not likely to have medical articles beyond the handfull of major journals. For anything else, you're going to need to use a medical school library.
posted by neuron at 3:38 PM on July 14, 2008

I would be extremely surprised if any library had its digital library available through wifi. They would need to pay for all potential users to do so.

Many of them do, so students can bring their laptops onto campus or into the libraries and access the content. The publishers can't control it and very few have the resources to sic lawyers on them, so they don't. The publishers don't want to be "the dicks" because the subscriptions are expensive and subscribers are few. Although the librarians are loathe to cancel a subscription and create a gap in their resources, the admins higher up aren't resource wonks, so if a publisher (especially a small niche field of research) is making a stink about access and rights, those making budget decisions may be open to canceling the subscription to avoid licensing and or legal troubles.

All this aside, if the Uni doesn't have access, the best way to get an article is to ask the corresponding author whose email address can usually be found with the abstract. That is unless the author is on the editorial board of the publisher's journals. Then they might frown upon it. Maybe.
posted by chillmost at 4:36 PM on July 14, 2008

Additionally there are different licensing models. Some resources (i.e. online journals, databases...) are licensed by the "seat", or simultaneous user. Others have a site license, which is just what it sounds like. Some have both options. So it's not necessarily sneakiness or a lack of stink-making -- sometimes it's the actual business model.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:55 PM on July 14, 2008

It sounds like you're not making full use of your university library. Ask the librarians about courses that teach you how to search and access all the content on these databases. Pubmed, while extensive, is not the be all and end all of databases and depending on your university subscriptions and subject interest others might give you better access. Do you have subject librarians? They will be able to answer all your questions. Our subject librarians are awesome.

If your school library is anything like mine, it will have courses in a whole lot of things that will help you, often for free or simply a nominal fee. Even if you're pretty well versed in research techniques you'll probably learn something. I see from a previous question and answer that you're an undergrad "well on your way to getting into a PhD in neuroscience" - if you go into postgrad you will probably find some of the advice invaluable.
posted by minus zero at 4:59 PM on July 14, 2008

I would be extremely surprised if any library had its digital library available through wifi. They would need to pay for all potential users to do so.

My university does, on campus anyway. But then you need a student account to access the wifi, and then everything runs through their proxy server as described above, so it doesn't help a non-student. The information commons also has terminals you can sit at and use but again you need a student account to log in. Plus they're allowed to check for student ID and kick anyone off campus who doesn't have one, although practically that only happens if you're creating a disturbance. As an off-campus student none of this is an issue to me as I can log into my student account and the magical proxy server from anywhere with an internet connection.

So yeah, I'd also suggest that you contact your school OP and see what kind of access they can offer you. I find pubmed doesn't always link up to our proxy server that well so end up looking up the ejournals straight from the University's library website (google scholar, on the other hand, links up wonderfully). So you may need to look things up in pub med then find the full text via whatever other ejournal mechanism your school can offer.

Another thing to ask about is your library's interloan service. Some Universities will make students pay for it while others will cover some or all of the costs. Either way if the articles are easily available online then your library can interloan them pretty fast. Mine usually arrive within two days.

There are also a couple of live journal communities where you can ask for science journal pdfs. Other students or researchers with access may pull it down and send you the pdf. It's not really legal and generally people get twitchy if you ask for lots of articles, but for a few important and harder to get hold of articles it can work.
posted by shelleycat at 5:02 PM on July 14, 2008

Check the authors' websites -- one or more of them may have a PDF posted. The journals disapprove of this but it's not uncommon for authors to upload a copy to their own websites.
posted by harkin banks at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2008

I would be extremely surprised if any library had its digital library available through wifi. They would need to pay for all potential users to do so.

My university does, on campus anyway. But then you need a student account to access the wifi, and then everything runs through their proxy server as described above, so it doesn't help a non-student.

That's what I mean. Access to journals is only free if they're open access. Sure, they might look free, but they're not. And expecting each scholar to write you back personally is, well, optimistic..

Nobody can legally release copyrighted material without following legal protocol, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will do it for long. I wouldn't be a dick about this point if I weren't committed to the idea of open access. Many scholars in developing countries are kept completely out of the loop by our model of publishing.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:08 PM on July 14, 2008

You have to proxy through your library, but even then I've found pubmed to be less good at finding the full text than google scholar "find it at UofBlah!" which shows up when you're proxied.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:15 AM on July 15, 2008

Response by poster: To clarify, I'm a student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and I've tried to use PubMed on campus before.

PubMed is an index? Oh.
posted by kldickson at 7:11 AM on July 15, 2008

Yep, pubmed is an index. other people have mostly answered your question, but if you find an article you want, go to that journal's website and see if it's posted. a lot of journals have their archives posted, other have bits and pieces posted. some don't have anything posted and want you to pay a fee for being able to download the article.

if your institution is subscribed to the journal's online services, you should (it's been a long time since i was in school) just be able to go to the website and see the article you want, if you're connected thru your school's internet.

if your institution is not subscribed, there's a thing (or at least there was at my school) like interlibrary loan for journal articles. you tell your librarian what you need, that person finds a school that has the journal, someone at that school scans or photocopies the article, and sends it back to your school. there may or may not be a fee for this. like i said, this might not happen everywhere, but my college has it, so it wouldn't hurt to ask at yours.

technology has changed a lot since i graduated from college, so there might be more tech-savvy approaches to this. but those are my suggestions for getting the articles you need.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:25 AM on July 15, 2008

@gesamtkunstwerk, um, no.

The icon next to the summary listing informs the user if there is an abstract or not, and links to free full text if available.

These are separate from the library's linking icons.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2008

Check this out.
posted by minus zero at 7:40 PM on July 23, 2008

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