Top tips

Check Library Search first

Save your money and use the Document Delivery Service

It can be very frustrating when you find a great article or report for your assignment, and click on the link, only to find you are being asked to pay for access.

Why can’t I get the full text?

Search engines (e.g. Google) or databases (e.g. Web of Science Core Collection) can tell you whether documents such as articles or reports exist.

However, the articles themselves are not always free to access. It is common, especially with internet searches, to click on a link and read a promising abstract, only to click through to the full text and be faced with a payment screen. This is called a paywall.

Information may appear freely available in search results, but a lot of content requires payment to read or download. This is very much the case for scholarly/academic content such as journal articles and for much business/commercial information.

Please don’t pay - read this instead!

How to get the full text

The good news is that as a “research-intensive” university we subscribe to thousands of journals on your behalf. We also have access to a large number of specialised business/commercial information databases. While you are on our campuses many of our subscriptions will allow you access without needing to log on. Sometimes when you are at home or working from another location it can be a little more complicated.

1. Use Library Search to see if the article, report or journal is in our subscriptions.

2. Check to see if the source web page recognises you as belonging to Imperial College London. Check the login options, as you may be able to sign in via your institution. You may be able to read the content through our subscription.

3. If you are working off-site you need to tell the source you belong to Imperial College London. Please see Logging in to online resources for more information on ways to do that.

If you have tried all the options above this probably means we don’t have access. You should not have to pay for anything. Please use our free Document Delivery Service to request a copy of the article.