Journals have an annual subscription that is often very expensive: to access full-text articles, one must be a paying subscriber.

When you’re on campus, our network is recognized as that paying subscriber for all of the websites and databases that give us full-text access to journals.  So, even if you typed in the name of a journal into Google, full-text articles may still come up.  (If you know things about IP addresses, this will make more sense to you, or so I’m told).

When you are off campus, however, these same websites or databases will ask you to pay to read full-text, because they do not recognize you as a paying user.

To get around this problem when you’re at home:

  • Always do your research through the library website.  This goes for Google Scholar, too, which can be found through the Databases webpage.
  • Before starting your research, enter your username and password into the “Off-Campus Log-in” box on the left-hand side of the library homepage.
  • Your browser will then refresh (you may see a “loading” page), and the words “proxy1” will be listed in page’s URL
  • You can then go about your researching business as normal, whether you’re using the Catalogue, Summon, a database, whatever.

If you’re asked to pay for an article later on your travels don’t do it! Check to see whether the “proxy” word is still in your URL – if it’s not, you may have to re-log into the library homepage and start your search again.

Having trouble accessing the full-text version of the article? Be sure to check out our post on how to access a full-text article through Western Libraries.

I tend to forget to tell students this when I’m teaching them how to do journal research (especially lately.  We all have a thing, don’t we?), so my apologies to pretty much every student I’ve taught this year.  Blame me for your at-home research frustrations! -HC

This post was originally written by Heather Campbell in October 2011 and has been updated as of March 2019 by Jordan Bulbrook.