What’s the point in journal articles that I can’t read?

This post will look at journal articles where we do not have access to the whole journal article (this is also called the ‘full text’.) This is the sister post of ‘How can I find the full text of a journal article?‘ – which looked at how to select only those journal articles which have the full text. If you would like to learn more about the various ways to search for journal articles then please see this post.

Oh cruel world, what is the point in showing me journal articles that don’t let me read the full text?! I hear you cry.  The main point is:

To give you a better understanding of the research in your subject area

When you hide from yourself all the journal articles which do not have full text access, you are only getting a partial view of the research which has been carried out by experts in your subject.

This has several implications.  For example, an important factor in selecting your dissertation question is to place your question within current research.  You ideally want to pick a question that will let you add something new to the discussion, i.e. it has not been covered by a lot of other researchers before you.  If you choose to hide results which do not have full text, then you are not properly able to work out how much other researchers have already covered your question.

To allow you to request journal articles from other Libraries

Another good reason for choosing to view all results (not just the full text ones) is that this feeds into the Inter Library Loan (ILL) request system.

Our ILL service allows you to request journals (& books) which are not part of our collections.  This might be particularly useful as you work on your dissertation question, which may focus on a more specialist aspect of a topic.

Journal article results which do not have full text often do have an abstract (= the summary of the content of the article in 1 or 2 paragraphs.)  The abstract will tell you if the article could be useful for you.  You can then use the other details about the article to request it via ILL:

Journal article result: abstract but not full text
ILL request form, using information from results page

If you choose to hide the non-full text results then you are not giving yourself the opportunity to see & request articles which could be useful to you but which are not part of our collection.

Choose wisely

In summary, non-full text journal article results can at first glance appear frustrating and slightly pointless!  However, choosing to view them can be the most appropriate approach in certain circumstances (e.g. the literature review stage of your dissertation.)  At other points in time, choosing to only see the full text results might be the better option (e.g. you have a tight deadline and need to instantly view results.)  The power is in your hands.



(Featured image by webandi, licenced for re-use under CC 0)