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How to cite a journal article in your post? (and how to access a paper cited in someone else’s post?)

Zhigang Suo's picture

Writers write, readers read. But the world is not that simple: it has e-walls between writers and readers. We have all helped to build the walls, so we should not complain. One day we might come to our senses to tear down these walls. Before that happens, we'll just have to cope.

When a writer publishes a paper in a journal, most likely he has made a decision to give away his copyright to the journal. In most cases, he cannot post the reprint online. iMechanica will honor the decision of the writer, as well as the copyright of the journal.

Here are several alternative methods to effect communication. To be completely safe and avoid all hassles, you can always use method 1 and ignore all the rest.

1. Cite the paper in the old fashioned way, with the full title of the paper, names of the authors, name of the journal, volume, page number, and the year of publication. The reader can locate the paper in many ways. In particular, she can paste the title into Google Scholar to access the full text of the paper. (To do so, the reader needs to localize Google Scholar to her own institution.) Of course, the reader can contact you directly by email requesting an electronic copy of the paper. Sending a reprint by email to a colleague is considered fair use of copyrighted material.

2. Make a hyperlink to a paper in an open-access jounral. If a journal is open access (e.g., the PloS journals), you can simply make a hyperlink to an individual paper in the journal. For example, here is a paper on the mechanics of hearing.

3. Post a preprint produced by yourself. Most journals are not open access, but most of them allow authors to post preprints. If this is the case, you can upload your preprint (not the pdf file produced by the publisher) to iMechanica by using the "File attachments" button beneath the posting window. Here is an example of posted preprint. If you are unsure of the status of any journal, please check its permission by using this website.

4. Make a hyperlink to the paper on the web site of the journal. Be sure that the URL is accessible outside your institution. To do so, you should sign out the proxy server of your institution, or simply remove the proxy string from the URL of the paper.

5. Give the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Each paper published in recent years has a DOI. For example, here is the DOI of a paper, 10.1063/1.2357569, which can be found in the paper and on the web page of the paper. The reader can locate the paper by the link paper; for example, If you use this URL in your post, the reader can read your paper without learning about the DOI.

If you use methods 4 and 5, when a reader clicks the hyperlink, she will land on a web page that contains the abstract. To access the full paper, she will have to insert the proxy string of her own institution into the URL.

Writers write, readers read.

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