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COM 117: Interpersonal Communication: Tracking Down Materials


Finding full copies of sources is one of the biggest hurdles in conducting research, especially if you are looking for articles. With the internet, it's easy to find if a source exists, but often you can only access full text through a library. The systems involved are complicated and don't always communicate well with each other. Plus you often end up on publishers' websites, where they want you to pay for an article.

  • Never pay for an article. The Library can almost always track down what you need FOR FREE.

Use the information on this page to track down full copies of materials. Please ask for help if you hit a roadblock - this is one of the most common issues in research today and the reference librarians are experts in helping you overcome these obstacles.

Decoding Citations

In many cases, before you can track down full copies of materials, you need to know what kind of source it is. Here are some of the most common sources and what to look for in the citation (note that citations will look different in various styles):

  • Journal article - Usually contains the title of an article in quotations and then the title of a journal in italics. Look for volume and issue numbers.
  • Book - Almost always contains a place of publication or publisher. The book title is usually italicized or underlined.
  • Book chapter - Also contains a city of publication or publisher. Title of chapter is usually in quotations and title of book is italicized. Look for editors (usually abbreviated ed or eds.)

For examples of other sources and how how citations look in various citation styles, visit our Cite Your Sources guide. Once you've decoded your citation, use the boxes below to track down hard copies. A librarian can also help you figure out your source type.

Tracking Down Journal Articles

If you have a journal citation from a bibliography or other source list:

  • Click the Do We Have This Journal link on the library's homepage.
  • Type the title of the journal (not the article) into the search box.
  • The search will direct you to the source if we have it in print or online.
    •   You will either be given a link to a database with the full text or you will be told we have it in print (lower level).
  • If we do not have the full text of the journal, use this form to create an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request. This is free to you. Fill out all of the fields marked with an asterisk (*).
    • If the link to the form doesn't work, you can access it by going to My Library Account, which is linked beneath the search box on the library's main page. Log in with your Gustavus user name & password. Click on "Requests" and then click on the blue "Create Request" box. 

If you are searching for articles in a database and it's not full text:

  • Google Scholar -  If you search Google Scholar on campus, you'll see a "find it at Gustavus" link that will take you to the full text of the article (or tell you if we have it in print).  If you end up on a publisher's website & they are asking you to pay for access, stop!  Never pay for an article.  Use the info above to request the article through Interlibrary Loan.
  • Requesting Articles in a Database - Look for the FindIt! button, which will search to see if we have it full text in another database or in print downstairs.  If we don't have the article, you'll see the option to request it from another library.
  • Print Articles in the Basement - Sometimes the FindIt! button or the Journals List will tell you that your article is available in print. These are on the lower level of the library and are alphabetized by title of journal. Use the year and/or volume number in your citation to retrieve your article.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is the process of requesting materials from other libraries. This is free to you! Please take advantage of this service, as it expands your research collection greatly.

To request an article from a database that isn't already full text, click on the yellow FindIt! button. The FindIt! button:

  • Searches to see if we have the full text in another database - and links you to the articles
  • Searches to see if we have the full text in paper - find these on the first floor of the Library; journals are alphabetized by title (ask at the Library's Information Desk for help)
  • Gives you the option to request the item from a different library if we do not have full text - click the option to request the item

You'll be prompted to log in and then follow the instructions to create an ILL request. ILL is free for you. It typically takes only a day or two for articles to be emailed from the lending library to you.

To request books from other libraries, search the Gustavus Library catalog (Advanced Search). Scroll down to "Search These Libraries" and select Libraries Worldwide. When you find a book that we don't have in our library, click the title. From there, look for the Request from another library button (under Access Options) & follow the prompts to request the book. 

Ask a reference librarian or contact the Information Desk of the library if anything goes awry. We are here to help you solve any issues you have accessing the hard copies of sources. You can also find more details on the Interlibrary Loan page.

Tracking Down Book Citations

There are many ways to find books, depending on where you're starting.

  • Search the Gustavus library catalog to see if we have it here or at another library.
  • Request books we don't have via Interlibrary Loan by setting the search option on the left hand side to Libraries Worldwide. Once you find a book you like, click on the title & look for the option to request it from another library. NOTE: You won't be able to borrow ebooks from other libraries - this is a restriction set by ebook publishers. Check to see if there's a print copy instead to borrow.
  • You can also browse Google Books to see if part or all of your book has been digitized
  • A librarian can help you navigate any of these steps.
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