Library Q&A: How do I access online journals?

Q: Patrons frequently ask us how to access online journals, such as Consumer Reports.

A: While there is no one single method that works every time to find online access to a journal, one of the first questions we need to answer is a simple one: who is the patron? A University of Missouri student, faculty, or staff member will have access to MU resources that a Columbia resident will not. For an MU affiliated person, I typically will recommend that they start with the MU Libraries “Find a Journal” tool. You’ll find it at . Under the Looking For? list, click on A Specific Journal. Enter the title of the journal you are interested in and this tool will reveal which full text database have access and for what time periods. The time frame can be key information if you need a particular article.

Similarly, you can search the Library Catalog as many electronic resources are included there. Select the Journal option and enter the journal name. Clicking on the Online Periodical option for Consumer Reports will give a link to the same journal tool above.

Since Columbia residents will not have access to the MU resources without being a member of the campus community, we usually recommend that they check with the Daniel Boone Regional Library. Similarly, other Missouri residents can check with their local public libraries to find out what is available to them. Typically, if a library does not own a journal, it can request an article through interlibrary loan.

Important Note: Not all databases are created equally! If you’ve read Consumer Reports, you know how important the images and the graphs are to the content in the journal. Some databases do not include images and will only provide text. So, look for a database that will provide PDFs of the journal for the very best experience. Personally, I found that MasterFile Premier database to be the best way to access Consumer Reports because it has a wide time frame and PDFs.