I don't have any institutes' login credentials or free account. But some of the answers to my questions contain links to references. I can't access them. Is there any other way to do so? I do not mean the use of illegally accessing the journals or articles. But my question is that unless I have account credentials from an educational institute am I unable to view the content freely?


I don't consider this a duplicate. I also think that this is a highly pertinent question for many users of the site, especially in light of the frequency with which answers here refer to the primary literature (which I consider to be a very good thing).

First and foremost, it should be said that no answer should require somebody to read an article to fully understand the answer. Any crucial information from the article should be paraphrased (or quoted, ideally within reasonable limits) and inserted in the text of the answer itself.

Sometimes, it suffices to read the abstract or the first page of an article to get a gist of what the article is about.

However, if access to the full article is desired, the first port of call should be the person who has cited the article. They should usually be able to help you with getting a PDF, or by summarising any pertinent information in the article. Edit: Don't you dare ask for a PDF here, or you will be turned away in no uncertain terms.

The next thing to look for is a free copy lurking on the Internet somewhere. Some authors upload copies of their own articles on their group websites. For example, all of David Macmillan's papers can be accessed via http://chemlabs.princeton.edu/macmillan/publications/.

Finally, one thing should be clarified, because the topic has come up in the past, not just in meta but also in chat. There are illicit ways of obtaining papers, which I will not link to here; the moderators cannot police the private usage of such channels. However, please do not promote them on Stack Exchange (e.g. by posting links to such websites), as they will be removed. See also: https://chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4297/16683

  • $\begingroup$ "do not promote it on Stack Exchange" ... In my eyes, you are promoting it by writing about this option, even if unwanted. Also, by "we don't really care" you make it sound ok to go this way; I care and I clearly don't want to be part of your "we" there, who is this "we" anyway? :) Honestly, I think you should really rephrase the last part of your answer to make very clear, that this option is by no means truly accepted (here). In the end it is probably illegal in a lot countries to use this source and you don't want to promote s.th. illegal. $\endgroup$ May 13 '19 at 10:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @pH13-YetanotherPhilipp, what methods users use on their own computers to obtain access to papers is none of our business. I also don't consider talking about it to be the same as promoting it. I think people are sufficiently mature to decide for themselves what is conscionable, and that there is no point in pretending that such methods do not exist. However, the suggestion for clarification is duly noted. $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol Mod
    May 13 '19 at 10:56
  • $\begingroup$ @pH13-YetanotherPhilipp, is this more neutral/agreeable to you now? $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol Mod
    May 13 '19 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, but I think you can completely delete the "The mod team ..." sentence and nothing changes the message. $\endgroup$ May 13 '19 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I think that this is as far as I will revise it. I would like to retain the point that it is not really our job to be the moral police. $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol Mod
    May 13 '19 at 11:39

If you don't have credentials and they are required, officially you cannot get the full text from the publisher. Of course, there are numerous alternative methods, but those are an off-topic on Chemistry.SE. Semi-officially you can:

  1. Try to search the internet for the PDF file. Sometimes it's stored publicly on an FTP server, uploaded by an authors to their blog, or just mirrored by another publisher.
  2. Contact author(s) directly via email and ask them to send you a copy.
  3. Ask a friend who is affiliated with a university to get the paper for you.
  4. Ask on internet. There are forums and subreddit devoted to papers exchange (questionable ethics included).
  5. Somehow acquire access to the network of a university which has a subscription. Some universities post login-password pairs for its VPN for graduate students or guests.

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