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How do I get the full text of a journal article?

Link to this page: https://go.ur.de/get-the-pdf

Journal articles can be freely available on the WWW, be licenced through subscriptions of the University Library or be behind a pay wall because the University Library cannot afford the subscriptions. For older volumes only printed issues may be available.

Here we show you how to get to the full text of an article as quickly as possible.

Please note: When accessing licenced online full texts, you must be logged into the network of the University/University Hospital in order to use our licences. Externally you can use VPN, preferably with the FortiClient. To use library services, please use the profile "VPN UR home" or "VPN UR public".

As an alternative to VPN, the simpler use via Shibboleth is also possible with some providers. The list of providers is constantly being expanded.

1. Full text search in a reference management program

Do you already have the bibliographic data of the article in a literature or reference management program? Then many of these programs (e.g. Citavi and Endnote) can automatically search for the full text. Read more...

2. Search for articles in Google Scholar

In Google Scholar, search preferably for the DOI of the required article or, if this is not known, for the title of the article in quotation marks (phrase search). Google Scholar is a search engine for scientific literature, which finds many freely available articles in addition to the websites of publishers. These can be located on social platforms for scientists (e.g. ResearchGate), institutional and subject-specific repositories (e.g. PubMed Central, publication server of the University of Regensburg) or on authors' homepages.

3. Search for a journal in the Electronic Journals Library (EZB)

Search in the Electronic Journals Library (EZB) for the journal in which the article has been published (Attention: Do not search for the title of the article!) In the EZB you can tell from the traffic light symbols whether the journal is licenced in the period in which the article was published (yellow traffic light) or whether it is even freely accessible (green traffic light). But even if the traffic light is red, it is often worth visiting the journal's homepage(s). Often individual articles or issues are freely accessible, even if this does not apply to the journal as a whole.

In the detailed view of a journal you can also see whether the University Library has a printed edition from which you can obtain the article.

4. Search journals in the library catalogue

Especially for older articles, there may only be a printed version of the journal, so the journal is not included in the Electronic Journals Library. In this case, search for the title of the journal in the Regensburg Catalogue plus.

5. E-mail to author (reprint request)

The personal exchange of articles has a centuries-old tradition. Authors are practically always permitted by copyright law to pass on their articles personally, as is the case with all major publishing houses. Ask authors by e-mail for a pdf file. For more recent articles, the e-mail addresses are often already given in the author's details in PubMed or on the publisher's page of the article. Otherwise Google helps to find the (current) address. The success rate of such requests is quite high. Experience shows, however, that the response time ranges from ten minutes to several days. Sometimes this also provides opportunities for networking in the community...

6. Document delivery: interlibrary loan and subito

Interlibrary loan and subito are two fee-based document delivery services operated by libraries. They differ in the costs (interlibrary loan usually 1.50 €; subito from 5.50 €), as well as the guaranteed delivery time and delivery formats. Further information and instructions: Interlibrary loan, subito.

7. Localized version of PubMed

Use the localized version of PubMed for the University/University Hospital of Regensburg. This gives you the SFX button on the full text links of every article in PubMed, which offers adapted ways to the full text: from a licence to document delivery.

Further advice: You can set the above link to PubMed as a bookmark in your browser.

8. Open Access Button

On the Open Access Button website you can search for freely available full texts. An extension for web browsers shows the availability after a click on the button in the browser.

9. Unpaywall

Unpaywall is an extension for the web browsers Firefox and Chrome that displays the availability of open access full texts in the browser window.


The use of Sci-Hub, a controversial pirate site for scientific literature, is widespread according to relevant research. However, since Sci-Hub is considered an obviously illegal source under German copyright law, this cannot be recommended.

With information by Björn Brembs, Guus van den Brekel and Oliver Obst.

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