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Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Finding full text

Finding full text

Here are the steps I usually take when tracking down full-text articles. 

First, I like to perform these steps with VPN running in the background if off campus, for Google or Google Scholar in particular (VPN may not be a viable option behind hospital firewalls though).

Given I use EndNote to collect my references (this may also be an option in other citation management software):

  • I have usually exported my records/references from article databases (such as PubMed) to EndNote, so I use the Find Full Text feature in EndNote to automatically download as many full-text articles to my EndNote library as I can (usually in batches no greater than 20, but that's just a suggestion); they get added to the .Data folder but I don't usually access that folder as the article can be viewed and annotated directly from the EndNote reference
  • Instructions on setting up Find Full Text in EndNote (you'll need to do this if you're off campus)

If that doesn't work or you don't use EndNote:

  • I do a quick Google Scholar search for the article title and see if I can quickly get to full-text that way (I set up Google Scholar with “Find full text” links, and/or I use Google Scholar with VPN running in the background when off campus); 
  • If that doesn’t work, I copy and paste the full journal title (rather than the article title, although the article title can work too) into the Sofia Discovery Tool available at
    • I often use quotations around the exact journal title for more precise results
    • I recommend using the full journal title over the abbreviated format (to find the full journal title, check the NLM catalog, e.g., search for "Br J Med Surg Urol"
    • I often limit the results by format in the left-hand column to Journal/Magazine
    • When I find the right journal record, I click on “Access Online" and select a link that covers the date I am looking for
      • For e-access, I might have to click on a few links before getting to the right place: Pay particular attention to the information about the time coverage available for each electronic source to avoid unnecessary clicking
      • If it’s not available online, I check our print holdings in all relevant records for the journal; if it is only available in print at McGill, I click on “Place hold or request article/chapter scan” (be sure to fill in the citation information for the article or chapter in the item description field), or, if the article is in a journal that's on open shelves, I can go make a copy of it in person
    • More information on Sofia: The Shared Library Search Tool
  • If it’s seemingly not available at McGill:
    • I do a quick Google search, putting the exact article title in quotations for precise results (using VPN if off campus, although this may not be an option behind hospital firewalls)
    • If I can’t find it through Google, I submit an interlibrary loan request:

Liaison Librarian

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Genevieve Gore
Liaison Librarian, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering
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