This post assumes you have a journal article you want to read, and you want to find it for free online.
Today I was researching the genetics of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. Here’s the journal article I wanted to read: Alpha-actinin-3 levels increase concomitantly with fast fibers in rat soleus muscle.
Thanks to the DIYbio list, I found 3 good options for getting journal articles and research studies.
Free – Reddit Scholar
Request the article on Reddit Scholar. Within about 20 minutes, a scholar responds with a link to download the PDF of your journal article.
1. Go to Reddit Scholar
2. Register if you’re not already.
3. Post the Title, Author, and a Link to the journal article
Alpha-actinin-3 levels increase concomitantly with fast fibers in rat soleus muscle
4. Wait for someone to post your paper. (Here’s the one I requested) Then do whatever you like with it!
In my experience it takes about 20 minutes for someone to respond with your journal article. Sometimes the wait is longer.
$4 – Read it on DeepDyve
Rent the article from DeepDyve, to read in your browser.
1. Go to DeepDyve
2. Search for your article (here’s mine)
3. Rent it for $4. “Rental” means you can read it for 30 days. No prints or downloads. $20 for 5 rental credits.
Rental isn’t an option for all articles. For instance, I can’t rent this ACTN3 journal paper.
A big mark down for Deepdyve: DeepDyve is horrible at telling you if an article is available for free somewhere else. I rented a copy of this paper (http://jap.physiology.org/content/99/1/154) from DeepDyve. When I clicked on their “Buy from Publisher” link, the paper was free online from JAP. In another case, DeepDyve said an article was “Buy only”, but was free to download on Nature’s website. I looked at 20+ results for ACTN3, and 80+% of them marked as “Rentable” were free from the publisher.
But I want to like DeepDyve. If DeepDyve was more reliable about tagging “Free” journal articles, it would be my first stop when doing research. If the article was free, read it; if it’s rentable, rent it; otherwise consider buying it. No more hunting around across so many websites! Would love to update this post in a few months and find that DeepDyve is much better.
$30 – From the Publisher
The final option is buying the article from the Publisher directly. Normally the first result of a Google search is a link to the NCBI Pubmed website, linking to the publisher’s site. My ACTN3 article costs $41.95. Yikes! In my experience prices range from $30 up to $60, depending on the Publisher.
That’s it! This post is in honor of Aaron Swartz who ran the GetArticles Google group. It was my favorite place to get real journal articles and research studies before it was shut down. I hope that finding journal articles online becomes easier and more people do it!