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Schools Journal access outside of a university context?

  1. Jul 16, 2008 #1
    I'm self teaching myself some physics. I enjoyed the subject in my undergrad Engineering days (~ten years ago) but didn't find we covered it thoroughly enough (more emphasis on calculation than understanding).

    Since I started my learning quest there have now been a number of times that I would have liked to have read some Journal articles (or at least try to). However, access to these appears to be severely restricted, something that has suprised me since I previously thought of educational content being generally available.

    The public libraries where I live (Markham, Ontario) doesn't appear to have much in the way of science content. I've been thinking of making a trek downtown to my old engineering library where I think some of this stuff is probably available. That's not very convienient, especially when I don't even know upfront if I'm at a level to read the article that looks interesting by title or abstract.

    Does anybody know if there is any sort of online public library for journal access? Or, are people just out of luck outside of strict academia?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2008 #2
    A lot of physics papers are uploaded to the arxiv before being published:

    So, if you have a particular article that you are looking for you could search for the authors' names on the arxiv to see if they uploaded it there first.
  4. Jul 16, 2008 #3
    Most libraries use the Inter-Library Loan system, if your library doesn't have much I would try using something like that. If you don't have access to a university library it's going to be difficult to find a lot of scholarly journals.
  5. Jul 16, 2008 #4
    Today I looked for:

    Phys. Rev. 123, 384 - 390 (1961)
    Lagrangian Formalism in Relativistic Dynamics

    for example, which I believe is much older than arxiv.
  6. Jul 16, 2008 #5

    Andy Resnick

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    I second inter-library loan. That may cost you in reproduction fees.

    Yes, you are discovering a dirty secret of conducting research- there are a lot of hidden costs. Staying current costs a lot of money.

    The NIH, by way of a (US) Congressional edict, is moving to "open source" media. That won't solve your particular problem, but the reason for forcing taxpayer-funded research to be made freely available to the taxpayer is precisely what you wrote above.
  7. Jul 16, 2008 #6


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    There are a couple of things that aren't clear here:

    1. Did you try to access that paper at your library via online? The library may not have the hardcopy version of it, but depending on what the library subscribe to, they could easily have an online access, which is cheaper and what most libraries are going for nowadays.

    2. Even if they don't have such access, have you check with a librarian on whether you can get a particular article from a journal? With online access, many libraries can send articles to those who have prior agreement with them, so your library can easily request such an article for you.

  8. Jul 16, 2008 #7

    George Jones

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    You're probably fairly close to York University. It doesn't cost much to get a library membership at York. I did this about ten years ago, and this allowed me to borrow books, but I can't remember about electronic journal access. Certainly, you can go to Yorks's Steacie Science and Engineering Library and photocopy hard copies of the old articles that you want to read.
  9. Jul 16, 2008 #8
    The online access at the public library is pretty limited, and is kind of a tease. I can search for articles on a subject and find lots of them (for example, the American Journal of Physics, had some I wanted to read), but when you try to access them you find the library actually only has access to the abstract.

    For the particular case of the American Journal of Physics, the librarian has suggested a reference library in downtown Toronto (two hour roundtrip commute without time for reading or finding). She also suggested a somewhat nearby University Engineering library, but that one appears (at least now in Summer) is only open during work hours.... this is why I was hoping there was something online that I can access in a more leisurely fashion as time permits.
  10. Jul 16, 2008 #9
    Generally, most universities offer library membership (and their online database systems) to the public at a discounted rate.
    So, that might be an option and would allow you to request articles etc as desired (for a nominal fee)
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