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Research Skills: Next steps: Full text access tools

A guide on research skills

Overview: Full text access

This guide provides information on a range of free tools available to help you locate, access and download the full text of articles and other publications online, wherever you are.

  1. viaDurham: Use this essential Durham tool for simplifying off-campus access to the full text of journal articles
  2. Google Scholar: Making the most of Google Scholar, Google Scholar Button, and understanding its limitations.
  3. Unpaywall: Use this essential free tool for locating a free to access version of articles you find not covered by our subscriptions
  4. Other tools: Kopernio, Unpaywall Simple Query Tool, OA Button, Core... there are a range of free tools and services at your fingertips.

viaDurham: easier access from off campus

What is viaDurham?

viaDurham is a simple button you can add to your web browser which simplifies the login process off campus when you are on a journal’s web page, so that you don’t need to leave the page and find your way back from the Library website.

It won’t work for everything, and won’t give you access to content we don’t subscribe to, but it will save you a huge amount of time (we hope) for a huge proportion of the over 20,000 journals we do have subscription access to.

The video below shows how it works, and how to get it on your own computer (you can find the link, and instructions, for installing in your browser in the respective tabs in this Guide).


Install viaDurham

To install the button, follow the instructions below for whichever web browser you are using. You will need the link in the box below.

viaDurham

Chrome
  • Click and Drag the viaDurham button above to your bookmarks toolbar
  • If your bookmarks toolbar doesn't display, click the menu icon in the top right of the browser, then under bookmarks make sure that show bookmarks bar is ticked.

Install viaDurham

To install the button, follow the instructions below for whichever web browser you are using. You will need the link in the box below.

viaDurham

Edge
  • Click and Drag the viaDurham button above to your bookmarks toolbar
  • If your bookmarks toolbar doesn't display, either press Ctrl+Shift+B to toggle it on/off, or click the  icon in the top right of the browser, then under Favourites find Show favourites bar and select Always.

Install viaDurham

To install the button, follow the instructions below for whichever web browser you are using. You will need the link in the box below.

viaDurham

Firefox
  • Click and Drag the viaDurham button above to your bookmarks toolbar
  • If your bookmarks toolbar doesn't display, go to View > Toolbars and make sure that Bookmarks Toolbar is ticked.

Install viaDurham

To install the button, follow the instructions below for whichever web browser you are using. You will need the link in the box below.

viaDurham

Safari
  • Click and Drag the viaDurham button above to your bookmarks toolbar
  • If your Bookmarks Toolbar doesn't display, go to View > Show Bookmarks Bar.

Install viaDurham

To install the button, follow the instructions below for whichever web browser you are using. You will need the link in the box below.

viaDurham

Internet Explorer
  • Right click on the viaDurham button above and select add to favorites
  • If you see a security alert to the effect of "this favorite may not be safe", click Yes to continue (it is safe)
  • Add the link to your Favorites Bar folder within your Favorites (by selecting Favorites Bar from the list of folders that display when saving to your favorites)
  • Ensure that your Favorites Bar is visible on your browser by going to View > Toolbars and ensuring thet Favorites Bar is ticked.

Unpaywall and OA Button

Open Access

Staff and Students at Durham University have access to over 20,000 journals online, alongside many other resources through our subscriptions, but we still cannot afford to provide you with access to everything you may need. Increasingly, many authors, funders and publishers are working together to make scholarly research open access - available free at the point of use to readers, including you!

For an introduction to open access, see our guide here.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know if something you have found might be freely available elsewhere, but there are free tools such as Unpaywall and OA button which you can use to find and access these wherever you are.


UnPayWall

UnPaywall is a free service which collects information on open access versions of academic research published globally, from over 50,000 journals and open access repositories.

The video below demonstrates how their free browser extension works to find an open access version of an article you have landed on but cannot access; the video then also shows you how to install the tool, which can be accessed here.

Unpwayall also provides a free REST API and Simple Query tool which you can use to check up to 1,000 DOIs at once to find out their open access status and a location for an open access version of those publications.

OA Button

OA Button works in a similar way to Unpaywall's browser plugin, but instead appears as a button in your browser bookmarks bar, similar to Google Scholar Button.

You can access OA Button here.


Unpaywall Simple Query Tool (Advanced)

Unpayall also provides a free REST API and Simple Query tool which you can use to check up to 1,000 DOIs at once to find out their open access status and a location for an open access version of those publications.

 

OA Sheet

Similar to Unpaywall's simple query tool, OA sheet allows you to submit a list of outputs and you will be emailed with an indication of their open access status, and where you can access a free-to-read version of the article.


 

When might these tools be useful?

OA Sheet and Unpaywall Simple Query tool (and API) are unlikely to be of use for student coursework etc. They may however be of interest if you are leading a research project and wish to check the status of your team publications quickly, or if you are trying to locate, access or assess a large number of outputs.


Making the most of Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a quick, simple and freely accessible search engine for searching across a broad range of mostly scholarly publications. The guidance provided here is to help you make the most of Google Scholar, and highlight some of the less used services it provide.

 

Google Scholar: Library Links

Make sure that when you use Google Scholar, it recognises you as a member of Durham University. This will make accessing the full text of articles, in particular when off-campus or not logged in to the university network.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on Library Links
  3. Search for and add Durham University Library - Durham ConneXions
  4. From any search results screen, click on the link for Durham Connexions next to an article to be taken tot he correct login page to access subscription content.

Google Scholar: How to access Open Access versions of pay-walled papers

Google Scholar will often link to and identify multiple versions of papers, although will not always display them in your initial search results page. If you find a result but it is locked behind a paywall, try clicking on the versions link below the result in your Google search page to see if it has found any manuscript versions in an open access repository or on an author's personal web pages which you can access.

Google Scholar: Click on Versions below each result

Google Scholar Button

Watch our short How to use Google Scholar Button video, which introduces the free browser tool which can help you find academic publications related to anything you find online.


Google Scholar: Search Alerts and Citation Alerts

Google Scholar allows you to set up an email alert to notify you of any newly identified articles which match a search you have run. To set up an alert, click on the link marked Create Alert once you have reviewed your results list.

Warning: Google Scholar searches a huge range of content, and it is easy to find yourself bombarded by alert emails you never have time to review. Be careful with setting up alerts: but also remember at the foot of each email is a link allowing you to cancel the alert if it is no longer needed.

Google Scholar Search Alerts 001

 

You can then provide an email address to receive the alerts.

Google Scholar Alerts 002

 

 

Google Scholar: Limits of search functionality

Google Scholar's ability to process a complicated Boolean search is limited. Whilst for many purposes this may not be a significant concern (e.g searching using a couple of keywords, or searching for a specific articles), you should be aware of these limitations for more complex searches.


Search Logic

Google Scholar cannot accurately process any search which uses more than one “concept”, each described by multiple synonyms/alternative terms.

(See our Guide on Constructing your Search for further information on connectors and alternative terms in your search)

For example:

  • (teen OR adolescent OR juvenile) AND (achievement OR attainment OR grade)

... will be interpreted by Google Scholar as...

  • teen OR adolescent OR juvenile OR achievement OR attainment OR grade

... although results where multiple of the terms appear will generally appear higher up the results list, so the effect on the search result may not be apparent.


Number of Results

Often, when searching Google Scholar you will be told your search has returned results numbering in their millions or tens of thousands.

However, you will never be able to see beyond the first 1,001 results located.

In itself, for most users this is not a problem - who is going to wade through more than 1,001 search results; but considered alongside the limitations in how complex searches are interpreted (and the amount of "noise" created int he results list), this could potentially mean that some key results may remain invisible to the user, which may be problematic for some research needs.

 

Google Scholar: Publish or Perish Software (Advanced)

Publish or Perish is a software programme developed by academics, for academics. Whilst its primary purpose is in citation analysis, it can offer useful ways to search Google Scholar content for literature reviews and systematic reviews, as it allows you to:

  • Search Google Scholar (and other sources) by keyword
  • Search Google Scholar by author profile ID (e.g. to find all publications from a single author, where they have a Google Scholar Profile)
  • More options to order your results by:
    • Google Scholar is limited to "date" and "relevance"
    • With Publish or Perish, you can order by title, total citations, authors, source title.
  • Export all identified results in various formats (Bibtex, .csv, .ris (for Endnote, Mendeley, Zotero etc.)

See Publish or Perish for further guidance and information.

Kopernio

Kopernio

Kopernio is a free browser plug-in, provided by Clarivate Analytics (Web of Science), which can simplify online access to the full-text of articles you find, and provides an pdf library which can act as a search history, or integrate with reference management software such as Endnote.

Below is a short video providing an overview of how Kopernio works, whilst further help and guidance from Clarivate Analytics can be found here.


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