Monday, July 17, 2017

Hitting the Scientific Pay Wall

Hitting a paywall can be incredibly frustrating when you're searching for primary scientific literature. For those of us who are "casual" readers of science - in other words, we're reading it to learn about it for fun and not work or school, there are many options for open access journals where you can peruse full articles.

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For a directory of open access journals, check out the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals, of course!) Some of my favorites of the biology based open access journals are the Public Library of Science (PLoS), which I have mentioned in the past, which has a variety of different journals on many scientific topics. Another is mBio, which is relatively new journal published by the American Society for Microbiology that started up within the last five years or so. PubMed is the most commonly used search engine for scientific articles for those in the biological sciences. Many articles that have never been or are no longer behind a paywall can be found linked through PubMed. 

If you're a student (I'm talking university here, unfortunately), you can usually log into or connect to your university library and access most articles, as long as your institution has an scubscription. Once you're logged in, PubMed will show links to the articles that are available through your university. If you do hit a paywall, ask your local librarian if you can borrow the article from another library. They can often get the article (even a PDF) for you from another institution.

High school students might be able to access some journals through their library if the schools have agreements with local universities. It never hurts to ask your friendly locak librarian! 

One other source I think is useful is the Faculty of 1000 (F1000), which has a relatively low subscription rate ($9.95/month) and it will give you article suggestions and summaries of new articles that are written by scientists in the field. In other words, F1000 is where the smart kids go to talk about the work that excites them that's been done by other smart kids.

Being a biologist, I know that I have neglected pretty much every other field out there. I invite anyone who is an expert in any scientific field to chime in with any other suggestions for open access articles! Please comment below.

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