Jeromy Anglim's Blog: Psychology and Statistics

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Evaluating PubGet: A Tool for Obtaining Full-Text PDF Journal Articles Quickly

This post discusses and evaluates the use of PubGet for quickly obtaining full-text PDF journal articles via institutional subscriptions.


PubGet is a free online tool for the life sciences which facilitates obtaining full-text PDFs. It was recently brought to my attention after I posted about using Google Scholar as a tool to facilitate obtaining journal articles.

Evaluation of PubGet


To what extent does PubGet display the PDF when my University has access to the PDF? To evaluate the usefulness of PubGet I assessed whether it provided PDF access to a set of journals for which I knew my university (University of Melbourne) had a subscription. The following were the results:
Journal Abstract Shows PDF Shows
Journal of Applied Psychology Yes No
Human Factors Yes No
Cognitive Science Yes No
Psychological Science Yes No: Cookie problems
Human Performance Yes Yes
American Psychologist Yes No
Personality and Individual Differences Yes Yes
Social Networks Yes Yes
Australian Psychologist Yes No: Cookie problems
Organizational Science Yes Yes
Administrative Science Quarterly only up to 2005 No
American Statistician No No
Thus, PubGet only connects directly to PDFs with a subset of journals that interest me using my University of Melbourne subscription. It provided access to abstracts for all psychology journals that I tried. However, when I ventured into statistics and business, coverage of abstracts was missing. The problem with the cookies could probably be resolved with some changes to my browser settings. Problem with access seems to be associated with the publisher providing the database. It's hard to say who exactly is at fault here: journal publisher, journal distributor, my library, or PubGet.

Citation Exporting

PubGet exports in RIS format. I could drag and drop this file into an instance of JabRef and import the citation.

RSS support

It facilitates the easy creation of RSS feeds related to search queries.


Coverage: Apparent reliance on PubMed means that many of the journals that interest me in business and statistics are not covered.
Institutional Integration: At present, the facility to directly access PDFs is not particularly good for my needs.
Conclusion: PubGet has some nice features and great potential. For researchers in the life sciences it represents a great option. If you know the journal is covered, it's a good means of accessing the full-text. However, for me, I will persist with my previously outlined Google Scholar Strategy for now.

Additional Resources


  1. It seems to differ by institution. I have access through PubGet to PDFs of all of the journals on this list except Journal of Applied Psychology, American Psychologist, and American Statistician.

  2. Hi Richard,
    good point.
    Perhaps everything in PubMed should work as long as the institution is configured properly and has a subscription.
    My main issue is that I read journals outside PubMed. Thus, Google Scholar works better for me, because of its superior coverage.

  3. RT @billsimpson19: Very useful search engine that finds open access articles