Here are some suggestions for how to find the full text of non-open-access academic articles. These steps should be followed roughly in order, when possible, since the things at the top of the list are easy, but things at the bottom may incur some work, expense, or delay for others and yourself.
- Search for the article's title in Google Scholar. If the main link isn't free and there are multiple other versions (accessible via a link like "All 3 versions" after the snippet)
- Search for the article's title in quotes followed by filetype:pdf using the ordinary Google web search
- Search for the senior author's web page using an ordinary search engine like Google. A version of the publication may be linked from a publication list.
- If you have access to an academic or community library, look for the journal name in your library's catalog system. Some libraries have online access to a number of journals, but you must go through some aggregation service they subscribe to. Many library catalogs will list the appropriate services under the journal's name.
- E-mail the authors of the publication to ask for a copy. Many will be happy to send a version to you. The first and last authors are good people to start with for biomedical articles.
- If the article was brought up in a MetaFilter thread, MeMail the person who mentioned it to see if they will send you a copy.
- Post a request on Reddit Scholar.
- Post on Twitter with the #icanhazpdf hashtag.
- Some MeFites may be willing to send a limited number of journal articles to you. List of MeFites willing to do this: [currently blank]
- Use your library's interlibrary loan program to get a copy.
- Ask your friends on Facebook or some other social network if any have access.
- Talk to the reference librarian at your library about how you can get the article.
- Contact a large academic library. If you are able to visit, many will allow you to use the databases they have access to on site, or will have hard copies.