How to Get Access to Research Outside of Academia


I recently graduated from my Master’s program and am now trying to figure out the best way to stay up-to-date with I-O empirical research without having access to a plethora of sources via my school’s library. Is there any way to do this without paying? I love that you include so many articles on your LinkedIn page, by the way!

Thanks for your help,
Collin Wilbanks, M.Sc.

Dear Collin,

Boy, can I can sympathize! One day you’re a graduate student filling up a plate from the all-you-can-read buffet. The next day, you’re a stray dog, scrounging for abstracts in back alley dumpsters. Fortunately, mangy old mutts like me have been on the hunt for a while, and we can point you in the right direction.

Start with your alma mater. Some colleges and universities offer alumni courtesy access to a limited number of databases. (If your school doesn’t do this, tell them to consider it.)

Next, try out someone else’s alma mater. By which I mean, check in with any local public colleges and universities to see if they offer library memberships to the general public. Sometimes this is free, sometimes not. (Private schools tend not to offer this program, as they don’t want you hanging around their library creeping out the paying customers.)

If those options come up empty, stop by your local public library. Sometimes they have agreements with statewide or regional library systems to get patrons access to some academic databases.

Next, hit up Google Scholar. A surprising number of entries now include links to full-text PDFs. And, even if you can’t get the whole article, you can gather leads to chase down from other sources.

Join ResearchGate. It’s basically a site for geeks to share their papers with other geeks outside the prying eyes of the journal editors. is a variation on the same theme.

And, hey, you know––that’s pretty much it. Cough-cough––for legitimate above-the-board sources and such.

There you go, Collin!

Happy Hunting,