How to find scientific papers

Books in a Library, Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

Finding firsthand scientific information is hard. First most articles use scientific slang that is hard to understand if you are not specialized in this field. However it is often worth it since you get rid of the filter of normal news journalists who often do not really understand the papers themselves and sometimes really do not get the right point. If you regularly read popular science pages you might have noticed that the authors of those articles are often a bit overly enthusiastic about some research results. They overstate because click baiting is a way of earning money with your news site.

Since that is not the case with scientific papers (they do not normally earn money for their authors) their tone is a lot more honest.

Now if you are looking for scientific papers you can use Google but that is not very specific. One of the most standard search pages for scientific papers is pubmed and it does this quite well. But after you found an interesting article here it often puts you in front of the next barrier to enlightenment, namely a pay wall.

To avoid these your first step is back to Google. However not to the normal search but to Google Scholar. The main difference to Pubmed is that on the right side of the search results Google shows you other pages with the same article and especially those where they are available for free.

This already helps a lot but there are still some articles that Google Scholar won’t offer you for free. The next tool to also find most of them is Sci-Hub. This is a tool that works in a bit of a grey zone. It collects articles from authors who, if you contact them directly, normally gladly share their manuscripts with you for free.

I think it is totally legitimate to offer free access to research that in the overwhelming majority has been paid for by public money.

Now you should have access to almost all scientific papers you need. If you still find an article that is not available for free with these tools, you should try to contact the authors (contact details should be directly below the title even in the preview). Most of them will be happy about the interest in their research.

I’ll later write a post about how to organise and store all your newfound scientific knowledge.

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