How to find a journal article online

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Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a subset of Google Web Search that enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature.

By providing a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature, Google Scholar is perhaps the best place to start when looking for a specific article or when starting a literature search on a specific topic. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, and abstracts, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. The Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online journals of Europe and America's largest scholarly publishers, plus scholarly books and other non-peer reviewed journals. Google Scholar's database has an estimated 80-90% coverage of all articles published in English. Google Scholar is similar in function to the freely available CiteSeerX and getCITED. It also resembles the subscription-based tools, Elsevier's Scopus and Thomson Reuters' Web of Science.

Can I trust the resources listed in Google Scholar? Not all Google Scholar results are "scholarly". It is important to review and assess each information source for its appropriateness and relevance to your research.

How do I search Google Scholar? You may search Google Scholar just as you would search Google. Just like regular searches in Google, Google Scholar ranks and lists results according to how relevant they are to the search query. Google Scholar rankings include how often the work was cited. The most relevant references should theoretically appear at the top of the page. To do advanced searches in Google Scholar, including searches for a particular author or in a particular journal, use the Advanced Scholar Search page.

  1. Set up Google Scholar

Before you search, set up your Google Scholar by first linking to some key E-Resources.

Open Google Scholar. Go to Settings (top of page). Go to Library Links. Search for and then link to the following E-Resources:

    • HINARI – Kenya – HINARI Full-Text
    • AGORA – Full-Text @ AGORA
    • OARE - Full–Text @ OARE

Then click save. Ensure your browser accepts and keeps cookies, so that you only need to set up the linkages once. You are now ready to search Google Scholar.

  1. Search on Google Scholar

You can conduct a Simple Search or an Advanced Search:

    • Simple search: enter one or more terms in the search box
    • Advanced search: Click on the arrowhead in the search box. This will open the advanced search page.

Tips on searching Google Scholar

  1. The returns in the search will be a list of citations in order of relevance (rather than chronologically as you usually get with academic article searches). Some results may have more than one link to a full-text (pdf of the article). To obtain the full text article, follow the ‘full-text’, 'pdf’ or ‘HTML’ link (see highlighted links in the example below). If one link does not give you access, try the others.

If the reference does not have a ‘full-text’, 'pdf’ or ‘HTML’ link, try clicking on the title link. Some of icipe’s E-resource databases are IP enabled, so the link might take you to the pdf of the article.

Sometimes an AGORA link will take you to Science Direct (a database of Elsevier journal articles). Access to Science Direct can be made through one a computer in the icipe Library or through a person in your research theme who has been allocated access. For more details see


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  1. If you are still unable to get the article, then try one or more of these options:
    • Click on the title of the article in the Google Scholar results. Find the name of the journal and the publisher. Then check if the journal is in the icipeonline journals list, or check if icipe has access to the publisher’s database in the E-Resource Databases.
    • Search on Google. You may find a link to the article.
    • Search JSTOR (access is IP enabled). The JSTOR database contains older articles.
    • Search
    • The icipe library has a database of some older articles. Go to the icipe library catalogue. Select ‘Journal Article’ and search with appropriate key words.
    • Request the pdf of the article from an author through ResearchGate.
    • Search directly for the homepage of the first or last author of the paper and see if he/she has a PDF of the paper on their website. Generally it is only worth looking up the first author (the one who contributed the most to the paper) or the last author (usually the PI in whose lab the work was done and who supervised the project).
    • Contact the author via email. The first and last authors are normally the best authors to ask. Briefly explain your situation (e.g. You are a PhD student working in this field, but are unable to obtain the full-text of the paper) and request a PDF copy of the paper directly from him/her. Be polite and brief in your email. In the subject heading of the email put: Request a PDF of your published article: "Title of paper"
    • Contact the icipelibrary for help. They may be able to obtain the article through one of our partner libraries.
    • If all else fails, purchase a copy. This is an expensive option, particularly if you have multiple papers you'd like to read, so try some of the other searching methods first.