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Researching and Writing a Paper: Full Text Advice

This guide is about how to start, research, write, and format, a paper.

Full Text Advice

Limit to Full-Text:
Some research databases only contain full-text articles, others contain both full-text articles and information about articles they do not have the full-text of (usually the title, abstract, and author/publisher-provided keywords). You can limit your search results to only full-text by checking a box or similar option – but if you select 'Full-Text Only' you may miss finding useful articles that are not full-text in that database. If the abstract of an article whose full-text is not available in that database looks useful save the citation so that you can look for that article in another database, online, or through Interlibrary Loan (Books/Articles). Please consult Library Staff if you have any questions at all.

Full-text documents come in three different forms:

  • HTML Full-text: this displays the article as regular web text. This often omits the original page numbers and sometimes the graphics like photos and charts. (Not your best option because it makes correctly citing quotes trickier.)
  • PDF Full-text: the article is exactly as it appears when published in print, with the same formatting, page numbers, charts, graphs, etc. (An excellent option.)
  • Paper Full-text: sometimes the easiest way to find the full-text of an article is in a paper-copy of the journal or magazine. The paper copy will have all the information that the PDF copy does. (Articles received through Interlibrary Loan are often copied from a paper original, but arrive in your email inbox as a PDF copy.) (Also an excellent option.)

Some databases offer both saving/printing the article information and saving/printing the full-text. If you have found something useful that is not available as full-text in that particular database, save/print the article information so you can look for full-text elsewhere. If full-text is available, go for it! But! Always check your download or print-job to make sure that you saved/printed what you wanted to. ('View PDF' and then 'print/save PDF' nearly always works.)

Also – the full-text PDFs that you download will often have a filename made of numbers or something else that means nothing to you. Rename each PDF with the title of the article or something else that will enable you to easily know which PDF is which.

Different people are different. After saving a copy to your computer or cloud storage you might prefer to print out each PDF, or you might prefer working with the PDF on your computer screen - and many people like to both print it and work with it on their computer.

Additionally, many databases offer the opportunity to download or copy the citation for each article. Make sure you have the citation for every article that you download or library book that you use - finding/creating a citation after you start writing your paper is much less fun than making sure you have the citations correct before you start writing.

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