Skip to Main Content

Finding Information

Gain an understanding of different information formats, including the ways they can be used in research.



Researchers encounter and discover articles in many different places and platforms online. You may have a citation from a syllabus or newspaper article and need to track down the original article, you may have found a record that looks interesting in a research database, or you may be browsing an academic journal website and hit a paywall. This page is designed to help you:

  • Check for access to articles and recognize when the Library does not have access
  • Request that a copy of the article be obtained and sent to you

Before we dig in, let's start with a few definitions.

Full-text Complete content of an article or other type of publication. Sometimes you can only search and see basic information about an article, like the title, authors and abstract. Research tools use the term "full text" to refer to the complete article - which could be viewable on-screen or downloadable as a PDF.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. This service can be used for books, articles and book chapters. We can not obtain copies of electronic books through this service. There is no cost to you for using this service; it is available to all students, faculty and staff.

Here are instructions for checking for full-text access to articles with popular research tools and services:

  • BruKnow
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
  • Find It Button
  • Starting with a Citation
  • Google Scholar
  • LibKey Browser Extension
  • PubMed
  • EndNote

Find It Button

When you search in a library database, look for the Find It at Brown button or a 'FindIt with BruKnow' link. When you click this button, you will get a list of links to the article or you will see a link to request the article.

Finding a specific article may require looking for it a few different ways, using information from a citation.

Starting with a Citation

Graphic showing citation elements in APA

  1. Check to see you have access to the journal by searching for the title of the article in the Library Catalog (BruKnow).
  2. If you didn't find the article:
    1. Click "Expand my results." If the article appears, click in to the record, then scroll to the section "how to get access" and "request article." This action will prompt the Library to obtain a copy of the article for you at no cost.
    2. If the above doesn't work, search for the title of the journal in the Find Journals Search. If you find the journal, dates of coverage and links will display. This search includes electronic and print journals. It is possible that we may have a subscription for the journal, but not for the date of your article. If you see that the library provides access to the dates you need, click the appropriate link, and search directly on the journal website or database. A Librarian can help you decipher the Journal search results. Reach out if you would like assistance.
  3. ​If you still cannot find the journal, use one of the alternative methods described on this page, like ILLiad, Google Scholar or LibKey.


How do I get the article if I find it in a database but the full text is not there?

If you found the article in a database, click on Find It at Brown or a 'FindIt with BruKnow' link. You should see one or more links to the article. If we do not have access to the article, you will be offered a link to "Request Scan/PDF from Another Library." Click this link and we will track down your article and deliver it to you through email within five days.


What if I am still having trouble finding the article?

If you do not see Find It at Brown or a 'FindIt with BruKnow' link, use ILLiad to request the article. When making the request, provide as much citation information as you can. You will get an email that your request has been received and an additional email once the request has been processed. The PDF of the article will be available in your ILLiad account. You might also try one of the other techniques described on this page, like connecting Brown University Library to Google Scholar or using LibKey.


When you search BruKnow and select "Articles Only," you will see results that are immediately available online through library subscriptions or Open Access publishing, and articles about which you can see basic information (like title, abstract and authors) but not the full text.  For online articles, there will be a link in the results list to view items online.

screenshot of available online link highlted in bruknow article result

Articles that are not immediately available to read will say "No Online Access."

screenshot of expanded access filter and no online access in result


Let's look at the record for this article:

Click "Check for Available Services" or "Get it"

screesnshot of BruKnow article page with Get it highlighted


Under the "Get It" section, you will see a link to "Request Article." This link will open in a new window and bring you to the Library's interlibrary loan platform called ILLiad.

screenshot of get it section with request article link highlighted

Information will be pre-populated on the article request form, but you can make any necessary changes to what you see. Click Submit to initiate your request. Article requests are typically filled within a few days and you will receive an email when your item is available.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar: Google Scholar uses the Google search engine to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports. Google Scholar results now include links to Brown University Library resources.

The Brown links appear as:

  • Find It @ Brown Full Text at the end of the article title if the Library subscribes to full text or
  • Find It @ Brown to search the Library’s catalog or to place an interlibrary loan request.

These links will appear automatically if you are on Brown wireless or the VPN. You may also set Brown as your default library by going to

Settings→ Library Links→ search for Brown→ select Brown University Library→ save.

LibKey Browser Extension

If you want to connect to full text no matter where you are online, you can install the LibKey browser extension. LibKey Nomad provides one-click article access to library subscriptions. The same "Download PDF" button shows across different platforms - from subscription library databases like JSTOR, to open databases like PubMed and Google Scholar, publisher journal pages, and even Wikipedia references. 

Since it's connected to your browser, you don't have to go through the library website or be logged in to Brown's network to be linked back to our subscriptions. If we don't have the PDF, it will bring you to a page to request an interlibrary loan of the article.

It doesn't require a user account, does not cache user credentials, and does not sell or share user data.

To install:


PubMed's publisher-provided links will often bring you to full text. However, if you are off campus and/or are prompted to pay for an article, make sure to use Brown's custom link (accessed through any library page) to ensure you'll see all the options for our subscriptions and interlibrary loan services. You can also bookmark it:

When you are viewing the abstract of an article, click the "Find It" button to connect back to our full text (if we have it), or be prompted to submit an ILL request (if we don't have it). 

Finding Full Text Video Tutorial


If you are off-campus (i.e., not on the Brown wireless network), you will need to sign in to the VPN to use this feature (otherwise you'll be limited to those articles which are freely available). 

Download and run the VPN F5 Desktop Client.

EndNote can utilize a number of the Brown subscriptions to full-text journal article databases to retrieve the full text of citations in your library. The following instructions are for those on the campus network.

  1. If off-campus, make sure to run the VPN software program (see above).
  2. Highlight the references you'd like to retrieve. 
  3. From the menu at the top select References → Find Full Text → Find Fulltext
  4. OR use the full text icon, shown below
    (PC icon on left, Mac icon on right)



On the left-hand panel, you will see the Find Full Text search results, and paper clips will show up in the records of the items where full text was found.

This method is not 100% accurate. Occasionally EndNote will not be able to locate articles that Brown does have online. For instances where the full text does not come through, check the reference against the library's eJournals list before making an ILL request.


Further Reading

Hilyer, L. A. (2018). Introduction to Interlibrary Loan. In Interlibrary loan and document delivery in the larger academic library: a guide for university, research, and larger public libraries (pp. 1-10). Routledge.

Learning Objectives

This page was designed to help you:

  • Recognize when Brown does not have access to an article you want to read
  • Request that a copy of the article be sent to you