Friday, 18 January 2013


One of the biggest problems for most people who are keen on doing their own research is the limited access to academic journals. The kind of articles you can find in journals are often some of the most useful resources because they can deal with the kind of minutiae and specialist areas that won't fit into a book, or else they provide the kind of bite-size burst of information that's a lot easier to chew on than a dry and dense academic book. But unless you have access to a university library, or academic resources like JSTOR, you pretty much have to rely on what's freely available online (such as ones I've listed here), or hope you can find someone who might trouble themselves to obtain a copy for you.

For a while now, JSTOR have been offering access to some of their articles that are already in the public domain, but now – and finally, because they've been promising to do it for ages – they're allowing members of the public limited access to their still-copyrighted catalogue. From what I've read, you won't get access to all the brand new articles that have just been released, but if what you're looking for has been published for a good three years or so, then you might be able to access it (if it's included in the scheme). You have to sign up to the site, and then you'll be able to add no more than three articles to your "shelf," where you can then view them. You don't get to download the articles, you just get access to images (so you can't cut and paste them to keep forever and ever), and whatever you add will stay on your shelf for two weeks, after which you can remove it and then pick something else to read.

So it really is limited – and frustratingly so if you're relying on it to do research for a particular piece you might want to work on – but it's better than nothing I suppose. For me, while I have access to a university library and can get a lot of articles there, I don't get access to JSTOR or other kinds of online resources, so it's a bugger if I want to access an article in a journal the university doesn't carry. Now, though, I can access journals like Béaloideas, whereas otherwise I'd have to jump through hoops to get what I want to look at when I happen to be able to visit the library. So that's a definite YAY.

I'm still holding out for unlimited access, though...


leithincluan said...

I just discovered this last week, while researching Cailleach Bhearra. I belong to a university library, but access to some journals can be a bit limited. This is not bad when I can't find journals any other way. Plus, when I'm not university-affiliated anymore, they might have expanded the scheme. It's something.

Laurel said...

This is great news. I am crossing my fingers and toes that they will allow full access at some point!

Hamadryad said...

I heard that academic publishing is supposed to be more accessible to the general reader under new funding arrangements. Perhaps this is part of that.

Good news for me if it is as I often want to check things I see in references and can't find them.