Skip to Main Content

Gerstein Science Information Centre

Searching the Literature: A Guide to Comprehensive Searching in the Health Sciences

Students and researchers in the health sciences are often required to conduct comprehensive searches of the literature. Follow the steps in this guide to learn how this process works.

Locating Full Text

Once you've conducted your search and found relevant articles, you're ready to find the full text of each citation. Often, this step is easy—simply search for the article title on the library homepage, Google Scholar, or in the database of your choice. If you're searching using the library catalog and are signed in with your UTORid and password, you can download the article PDF directly from the record by clicking "Download PDF."

Researchers conducting systematic/scoping reviews may also use an automatic full-text finder in their reference manager. These full-text finders rely on open-link resolvers much like the Get it! UTL button and are similarly reliable. The full-text finder is available in Endnote Desktop

What if I can't locate full text this way?

In some cases, finding full text is more complicated than just searching for the article title. While many people's first response to the landing page above is to request the article through Interlibrary Loan (RACER), this is often unnecessary if we have the item at U of T! There are a few steps you can take to locate the article you need before requesting it on RACER. This page will show you multiple methods to locate full text in the library catalog.

Watch videos to familiarize yourself with searching using the library catalog, or follow the steps below.


Finding full text in the library catalog: a three-step process

There are a few different ways you can access full text through the library. Follow the steps below before resorting to the Interlibrary Loan service:

  1. Search the library catalog for the journal that the article you need appears in
  2. Determine if the journal is available electronically or in print
  3. Access the journal online, or visit a library to reference the journal in print

Searching the Library Catalog for Journals

Where to locate the journal? 

Before requesting an item from another institution, check to see if it is available in the U of T library catalog. You can do this by searching for the journal name.

  • Locate the "Journals" tab on the LibrarySearch homepage (see above)
  • Navigate to the "Journal Search" bar, and search for the journal you need


Is the journal available electronically?

A journal record that is available online will have the text "Available Online" in the description of the result. Click "Available Online" to reach a page with web links that provide access to the online version of the journal. 

  • Select one of the "Full text availability" links (e.g., "Radiological Society of North America" in example above) that contains the year of the publication you need (e.g., from 2009 in example above)
  • Navigate to the electronic journal page and locate the correct year, volume, and issue
  • Or, search within the journal for the article title


Is the journal available in print?

If the journal is not available online—or the electronic resource does not include the specific year you need—you may still be able to access it in print! Catalog records will indicate, below the text "Locations," which libraries have the journal. Note that copies listed at hospital libraries are accessible to hospital employees only.

There are multiple ways to access an article in a print journal.

  1. Visit the library and make a physical copy of the article (for a small fee)
  2. Make a scan of the article (for free with a USB)
  3. Request the article through our Scan and Deliver service (current U of T faculty, staff, and graduate students only)
    • Log into LibrarySearch using the "Sign In" button in the upper right corner 
    • Search for the individual catalog record for the journal where your article has been published (see an FAQ on locating a journal using LibrarySearch
    • Select the library location that has the volume for your article, and click "Scan and Deliver" (find more information on how to use the Scan and Deliver service)  

Requesting an Article via Interlibrary Loan (RACER)

If the library does not have the journal you need electronically or in print, you can request a specific article from another institution through our interlibrary loan service, RACER. Note that you should only request an article through RACER if it is not available electronically or in print through U of T.

There are two ways to request an article through RACER, but before you can request items, you must register for a RACER account.


Request the item from the library catalogue record 

If you have already tried to locate the item in the U of T catalog with no luck, you can make an Interlibrary Loan request directly through LibrarySearch. Click "Expand your results beyond Library collection," and select the article you would like to access. Follow the link on the individual catalogue record to submit your request through RACER. This should auto-populate the request form with the article information. Double check to make sure the information is correct, and that the ISSN number is included. You can locate the ISSN number of a journal by searching for the title in Ulrich's Web. For more information, see the FAQ on submitting Interlibrary Loan requests


Fill in a Blank Request Form

If you navigated away from the Get it! UTL landing page, you can still request the article by filling out a Blank Request Form on RACER.

  • Log into RACER
  • Select the "Blank Request Form" option from the menu on the left
  • Fill in the form with the complete citation, including:
    • Article title, author, and page numbers
    • Journal name, volume, issue, and year
    • Journal ISSN number

Further Assistance

Still having trouble finding full text?

Contact us!

This work is openly licensed via CC BY-NC-SA 4.0For information on this guide contact Erica Nekolaichuk, Faculty Liaison & Instruction Librarian at the Gerstein Science Information Centre.