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.