Skip to Main Content
Armacost Library
Ask Us

Introduction to library research in the arts: Getting to full text

An introduction to research concepts and techniques for University of Redlands students in fine, literary and performing arts, developed as an Open Educational Resource (OER)

Learning objective

  • Overcome two common barriers to getting full text.

Barrier 1 - the database doesn't have full text

All library databases contain records, which tell you that a particular search result exists and what it is about. Some databases also contain the full text of the item, while others do not. Compare these two records from JSTOR (a full text database) and RILM (an abstract and indexing only [A&I] database)

In order to get the full text of items from A&I databases, you have to click on the Find Full Text icon.

The find full text icon has a University of Redlands icon next to a red box titled "Find Full Text". Click on this icon to query all library resources for full text.

Clicking this icon checks for the full text in all library resources. A behind-the-scenes system checks to see if another database contains the full text, and presents the results for you.

If full text is available in another library database or the physical library collection, the system will connect you to the records for the desired item.

If full text is not available in any library databases, the system will provide you a link to request the item from another library through interlibrary loan (ILL) at no cost to you. You need to be logged in for this link to appear.

Our library staff are able to obtain hard to find scores, articles and more from our network of ILL partners across the country. Not all items are available through ILL and you will need to allow time for request processing and delivery (typically 1-2 business days for electronic articles and up to a week or longer for physical items)

Barrier 2 - something goes wrong

Most of the time, the library's systems for linking you between databases will work as expected. However, errors can occur in rare situations.

What do you do if you see an error message instead of the article you were trying to get?

Screen shot of an error message in an Ebsco database.

Before giving up and trying to get a different article, try one of these things:

  1. Report the error to Armacost Library staff by clicking the Report a problem link in the library catalog. Tell us what went wrong, provide a link to the error screen if possible, and include your email address so we can help you find what you're looking for. 

Screen shot of the "Report a Problem" link in the Armacost Library catalog.

  1. Try accessing the same article from a different source. If there is more than one database that contains full text, try a different provider.

Screen shot of an item that is available through at least three different databases. If one full text link gives an error, try a different link.

  1. When you get an error linking directly to an article, try looking up the journal it was published in and find the specific volume and issue where the article should have appeared. Use the Journals & Magazines search tab on the library home page to search for the title of the journal and enter its website.


  1. Look for an open access version of the article online. You could search Google Scholar for the title of the article, or try looking it up in Unpaywall.

Check your understanding

Key points

  • Full text databases contain records and full text of items, while A&I databases only contain a record.
  • Click the Find Full Text icon to search for full text across all library resources.
  • If you get an error message, try finding the full text first before giving up on the article you want.