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How to Search the Literature (Advanced)

This guide offers an eight step approach from identifying your topic to managing your search strategy and results

Find the Full Text on a Journal's Website

Upon locating the journal site, information that might be helpful is:

  • the years of publication of the online journal. While some journals will have digitized back issues, if you are looking for an article from 1994, and the online edition doesn't start until 2006, you might be wasting your time looking for a free online version. .
  • The language of the full-text articles of the journal.
  • Once on the site look for “Archives”, or “Back Issues”, or for Chinese journals “Back Issue Browsing” to navigate to your needed volume/issue.
  • A direct link to the journal site does not necessarily mean it will be free

Some, not all, journal sites are accessible through the literature databases.


Click on the article title to view the full record




As in the "How to Read a Citation" section, you can access the information about the journal by clicking on the abbreviated title, and choosing NLM catalogue:

You can also access the same page by searching the NLM Catalog which is linked from the PubMed home page.


  • Ulrichsweb database:
    • Accessible through
    • Database of many journals, with possible links to online sites
    • Link to the online site will also inform you of when the online content began (ie. if the online publication began in 2006, and you are looking for a 2000 article, you will not find a free full text online)
  • Basic information could have a link to the journal website, if there is one; language of the text; if it is peer-reviewed; and year of the publication

More detailed information below can be expanded to show publisher contact information (helpful if no libraries can supply an interlibrary loan and if it is not free online); past journal titles; and years of online availability 

    Google the journal title or “ISSN” + issn number
  • Can try to search Google by the article title, but often it will be a citation to a bibliography, not the article itself
  • Choose the link to the journal site, by journal title or acronyms of journal title. Avoid other library sites or database portals

Find the Full Text on the Journal's Website

  • Click on the title of the article to see the full citation details which will provide a link to the journal's website and the article DOI.
  • You can also retrieve the full text in a database by clicking on the GetIt link located beside the article record.