What is “citation linker” on Western Libraries’ website?

You may have stumbled across citation linker while poking around.

Citation Linker is intended to be a quick way to find a full-text journal article without having to go into a database.   So, if you’ve written down a citation, if your professor has given you reading to do, or if you’ve found a citation somewhere else, this is a quick way to find the full journal article you’re looking for.

Pros: it often works and it’s fast.  Hooray!

Cons: Sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s frustrating.  Boo.  Like all technology, this feature is not fool-proof.  (Some of this relates to the limitations of the E-Journals feature, which you can read about in another blog post.)

To use Citation Linker, head to the Beryl Ivey Library homepage and find the link under the search box (in the middle of the screen).  Fill in the form that appears on the next screen (i.e. article title, journal title, volume, issue, page numbers).  You’ll noticed that the author’s name isn’t essential, but the other information is.

A new window will open: if Citation Linker has worked, one of two screens will appear.

1) A Get it @ Western screen will open, with the words “Full Text” near the top of the screen (see example below).  To get your article, just click the “Go” button underneath “Full Text” (in my example, it’s to the right of the year, volume, issue and page information).

2) The other window that might open looks like the image below.  In this case, you’ll need to select the journal you’re looking for by clicking on its title.  Once you do that, the window example from above will show up.

It’s up to you whether you use this service: I personally don’t find that it always works for me, but then I’m old and stuck in my ways.  If you would like an alternative to citation linker, though, you can try typing in your article title into Summon or using Summon’s Advanced Search feature.

Can you search for only full-text journal articles to save time?

The quick answer is: yes.  This is a great option if you find yourself panicking for research at the last minute, or if you’re stuck at home with the flu.  Not that I want to support procrastination, mind you.

My librarian side wants to counsel you to not do this for your entire bibliography, however: if you have done journal research at all in the past, you’ll know that you cannot get the full text to every article, on every single database.  This means that if you limit yourself to searching only online articles you’ll likely overlook very important resources (that you might even be able to find online somewhere else).

However.  You have a few options to search for full-text articles:

  • The best way is to use Summon: after you type in your main keywords into the Summon box, check the “Items with full text online” refine box (see picture below).  This will update your results to only display full-text online articles.
  • A few databases have a full-text option when you first go to conduct your search.  In ProQuest databases, for example, look for the check box that says “full-text.”  I’ve included a screen shot below so you can see what I mean.  Not many databases have this option, though!  The only other one that springs to mind is PubMed (look for full-text in “limits”)

ProQuest Sociology Collection:


  • JSTOR and Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) are databases that only have full-text articles.  Both have limitations, of course: JSTOR includes only articles published five years before today’s date (from today, the newest article you will find on JSTOR is November 3, 2005). DOAJ meanwhile, does not cover every discipline or subject equally, so you may not find what you need.

How do you find full-text articles?

We’ve all had this happen to us: we’ll come across a really great article, but getting the full-text is next to impossible.  We can find the citation and the abstract, and we’ll even try the “Get it @ Western” button, but nothing seems to work.

While there are many explanations as to why this problem occurs, it usually comes down to money: while a journal may be indexed (or its contents are listed) in a variety of databases, Western may only pay for one database to provide full-text access.  OR we may have access through the journal’s website.  Rather than wasting time by guessing, there are a few simple steps you can follow to find full-text articles quickly.

  1. Head to the library catalogue: http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca.
  2. Change the search option to “Journal Title”
  3. Enter the exact name of the journal (including “of” or “the”).
  4. Check to see if you can get online access to the journal
  5. Check to see if you can get online access to the volume you need. This is done by looking at the date range to the right of the database name.
  6. Click the link to visit the website or database for full text access
  7. Browse to the volume/issue of your article
  8. Find the PDF/Full text version of your article

Things that can happen that will screw this process up:

  1. When you visit the database or journal, the list of past issues isn’t right there on the screen.  Look for a link that says “archive” or “past issues.”
  2. Western may not have online access to the journal (as determined by steps 4 or 5 above).  If this happens, scroll down in the catalogue to see if we carry the journal in print.  Record the name of the library that carries the journal, and the call number.  Then you get to go on a field trip to find your journal article!
  3. Western may not subscribe to the journal at all.  If this happens, see a library staff person about what to do next.  We have a service called Interlibrary loan that will allow you to borrow items (including journal articles) from other universities: the library staff will help you determine if this is an appropriate option for you.

Why is it so hard to find full-text articles?!

This is a question we receive regularly at the Beryl Ivey Library, and is a common problem.  Many students can find the titles of journal articles without difficulty, but get stuck when it comes to accessing the full text of an article.  This is usually the case when you’re using traditional databases rather than Summon.

Why does this happen, you ask?  Usually the answer comes down to money: journal subscriptions are extremely expensive.  Even though you may be able to see a journal in many different databases, libraries usually only pay for one provider to give full-text access.  This means that we might find the citation or the abstract of a journal article in three or four different databases, but will only get the full article from one of those databases.

This is also the reason that the “Get it @ Western” feature doesn’t always work the way we expect it to.  Again, Get it @ Western is a fee-based service that is only linked with certain databases.  While it is a convenient feature when it works, it will not always provide direct access to full-text articles.

Yet another reason why full-text articles are hard to find is because of our assumptions: it is easy to believe that all journal articles can be found online.  Summon and other full-text products can give us this assumption, since they are only displaying online articles.  This is not always the case, though.  The library may subscribe to a journal only in print, for example; back issues of journals before the internet was popular (i.e. during the mid 1990’s) may not be available electronically, either.

Finally, access problems may come down to timing.  Some publishers will release the print version of a journal ahead of the online – even up to a year in advance.   This means you would have to photocopy the article rather than printing it from online.  Other journals will post the abstract of an article way before the journal is ready (often because the findings of the study are considered ground breaking).  In this case, you would have to wait for the full-text journal article to be released.

To help reduce the frustration the above limitations cause, I recommend keeping an internet window open to the library catalogue whenever you’re researching (http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca).  This way, you can quickly check which database provides full text access to an article, without having to guess.  Sometimes Western may only carry a journal in print, too, which the library catalogue will tell you.

For step-by-step instructions on how to find journal articles quickly, see the blog post: How do you find full-text articles?