Odyssey of a Journal Article

How can I find the journal article my professor mentioned? 

My professor recommended a journal article for my research paper... but she didn't mention the exact title, author, or journal name. Now how on Earth can I find it?  


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Dear Alex,

Ideally your professor will give you the link to the full text of the article or even print out the article for you. But that doesn't always happen.

It could be that at the end of your talk she says that she saw an article in IEEE last year on visual analytics for author names and that it might be a good fit for your project. And then she opens the door for the next student. You could email her afterwards, but you know that she sometimes doesn't respond for days.

What's the best way to get a copy of the article? Here's an example of the worst case scenario:  

  1. If you're new to academic research, chances are that you'll first start with Google or Google Scholar

    Here's how it would likely go if it were me. So, on my way home I would try searching for the article on my smartphone and find a few articles that might be right. Unfortunately, when I click each link, it shows me that I have to pay for access. Back to the drawing board 

  2. At home I decide to try and narrow down the articles in question. I go to the IEEE website. Great, they have more than just one journal. In the Digital Library I search for the article with the termsvisual analytics author”. Now I'm pretty sure I have the article I need: “NameClarifier: A Visual Analytics System for Author Name Disambiguation”. The article was published in 2017 in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. That must be the one my professor meant

  3. Because I have Citavi, I see the Picker icon on the page. I click it to add all the citation information I'll need to Citavi

  4. Now I just need the actual article. I connect to my university network with a VPN connection and click on "Find full text" andargh...no full text found.

  5. Hmmm...what now? Maybe my library has a print version of the journal. I check the library catalog.
    Nope. No such luck.   

  6. What about other libraries nearby? I check the shared campus system catalog for my state. Again, no luck. 

  7. I'm getting tired of all this searching. The good thing is that my library offers an SFX service, which Citavi supports. I enter that information in Citavi. Then, when I click Find full text, I can see the options my library offers for requesting the exact article via Interlibrary Loan When I place a loan request, my library will receive a scan of the article from the library that has it. I enter my contact information and then I just need to wait for a few days.

Okay, so usually it won't be this bad. Most of the time you can quickly find the article on your university library search page, in one of the databases your library subscribes to, or in Google or Google Scholar. Just think of this as your backup plan in case that doesn't work  

Do you have any horror stories for an important article that ended up being difficult to obtain? We'd look forward to hearing from you on our Facebook page.

Created by: Jana Behrendt – Published on: 7/3/2018
Tags: Finding sources From our support team

About Jana Behrendt

Jana Behrendt, a librarian by training, is deeply interested in everything related to personal information management. However, she does not read as much as you would expect from a librarian. She loves hiking in the Swiss Alps – as long as she doesn’t have to look down.

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