When you search for articles in research databases at the NCSU Libraries, such as Summon or Web of Science, most of the time you don't immediately see the full articles.

You just see citations, with what librarians call 'metadata,' which is just title, author, and other information such as a summary or abstract.

You can understand why this is if you think of databases like these as big indexes, in the same way that Amazon or other shopping sites are just big indexes of products you can buy.

When you find things you want in Amazon, you're not finding the thing itself-like in this case, a movie-you're just finding a record of it. You can see enough information about the product to know whether or not you want to purchase it, and only then would you get access.

Research databases work the same way. You are just searching through records of items, and the databases provide enough descriptive information to know whether it's worth getting your hands on the articles.

Just as with books, movies, or games in Amazon, research information comes at a price, and it's a lot, but it's paid for by Libraries, through institutional subscriptions that everyone at NCSU can access.

Now to get access to full text, you sometimes have to link out of the database. But the library gives you tools to make this easy.

You might see links like these buttons, which just point to full text online.

Or, as in most databases, you'll see a red and white button that reads Find Text at NCSU. Clicking a link like this one takes you to a linking screen, called 360 Link.

In many situations, you can just follow links to PDF versions of the full articles directly from the 360 link screen.

You're actually going to totally a different website as you do this, but we try to make this process as seamless as possible.

Sometimes, you'll discover there is no online version of the article. The 360 Link window is designed to help you out in these situations.

Sometimes you can link to the journal, but not the precise article that you want. 360 Link tries its best to find the most accurate link possible, but not all publisher sites support such exact linking. We deal with hundreds of publishers, so it's a complicated situation.

At other times, you'll discover there is no online version of the article and see a message like this one, indicating that the article isn't available online. But the library may have the journal as a print copy.

Here you can see links to search the library's catalog by title or journal serial number. That may turn up any print subscriptions that the library has.

If that fails too, you can always request the article through our Tripsaver service. That service provides interlibrary loans. Through interlibrary loan, you can get almost any book or article from nearly any library that's willing and able to share. Just place your request with this link.

And if you you need help, there is an option to chat with a librarian right from the 360 Link window. Usually a librarian can confirm whether articles are available or not and recommend next steps you can take.