This is an archived version of the Handbook. For the current version, please go to or search for this chapter here.  Full text journals available electronically

The full text of an increasing number of journals is available electronically on a subscription basis or free of charge on the internet. In addition to providing a convenient method for retrieving the full article of already identified records, full-text journals can also be searched electronically, depending on the search interface, in a similar way to the way database records can be searched in a bibliographic database.


It is important to specify if the full text of a journal has been searched electronically. Some journals omit sections of the print version, for example letters, from the electronic version and some include extra articles in electronic format only.


Most academic institutions subscribe to a wide range of electronic journals and these are therefore available free of charge at the point of use to members of those institutions. Review authors should seek advice about electronic journal access from the library service at their local institution. Some professional organizations provide access to a range of journals as part of their membership package. In some countries similar arrangements exist for health service employees through national licences. There are also a number of international initiatives to provide free or low-cost online access to full-text journals (and databases) over the internet, including the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL). For further information on these initiatives see Section


Examples of some full-text journal sources that are available worldwide free of charge without subscription are given in Box 6.2.d.


It is recommended that a local electronic copy or print copy be taken and filed of any possibly relevant article found electronically for subscription journals, as the subscription to that journal may not be in perpetuity. The journal may cease publication or change publishers and access to previously available articles may cease. The same applies to journals available free of charge on the internet, as the circumstances around availability of specific journals might change.