Library-fu technique gets you to online papers fast

June 17th, 2010

Ever wish you could just go straight to a particular online paper without browsing through a database or three first? Your browser can’t read your mind yet (it’s working on it), but you can use this awesome shortcut for a simple, reliable path to most articles.

First, find the DOI. DOI stands for digital object identifier, which is a kind of serial number given to pieces of content in the digital environment. A paper’s URL may change over time, but the DOI will not change. Look for them in citations, or on the first page of a paper.

Now for the kung fu. In your browser bar, enter followed by the DOI.

For instance, James Syvitski and Albert Kettner’s recent paper “Sediment flux and the Anthropocene” has the DOI 10.1098/rsta.2010.0329.

Paste and hit enter.

You go straight to the abstract on the website of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, and can just click the “full text PDF” link to get to the whole paper.

The beauty of the system is that you will see the abstract whether or not you have access to the full-text article.  If you’re on campus, or working from elsewhere using VPN, one click gets you to full text if the libraries have licensed it.

Go ahead, try another one: 10.1080/09583157.2010.534550

Hiiiii YA!