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Michigan State University

Human Development & Family Studies Library Resources: Finding Full Text from a Citation

Locating a Known Journal Article from a Citation

You can use Find Text @ MSU links to get the full-text of an article when you are searching in a database.  However, what about a situation when a professor or classmate shares a citation to a journal article with you?  What about following up on a reference from a bibliography in a journal article you like?  How do you locate the full-text of a journal article when you only have the citation in hand?

First, you have to be able to understand the citation.  You will be using the APA Style Manual for your papers and will soon gain familiarity with how to read and construct APA style citations.  However, there are many different citation styles out there, so the format of the citations you find will vary.  No matter the format there are common elements that will allow you to identify the citation as a journal article (rather than a book, chapter in a book, or some other type of material) and provide you with the information needed to find the full-text of the article.

Example Journal Article Citation

APA Style

Lerner, R. M., von Eye, A., Lerner, J. V., & Lewin-Bizan, S. (2009). Exploring the foundations and functions of adolescent thriving within the 4-H study of positive youth development: A view of the issues. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(5), 567-570. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2009.07.002

MLA Style

Lerner, Richard M., et al. "Exploring the Foundations and Functions of Adolescent Thriving within the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development: A View of the Issues." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 30.5 (2009): 567-70.

Chicago Style

Lerner, Richard M., Alexander von Eye, Jacqueline V. Lerner, and Selva Lewin-Bizan. 2009. Exploring the foundations and functions of adolescent thriving within the 4-H study of positive youth development: A view of the issues. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 30, (5) (Sep-Oct): 567-570.

Common fields

Author(s): Richard Lerner, Alexander von Eye, Jacqueline V. Lerner, and Selva Lewin-Bizan

Year of publication: 2009

Title of article: Exploring the foundations and functions of adolescent thriving within the 4-H study of positive youth development: A view of the issues

Title of journal: Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

Volume number: 30

Issue number: 5
*Note: some citation styles do not require including the issue number for journals with continuous pagination (i.e., when multiple volumes of the journal are published in a single year and the paging remains consecutive for the entire year—volume 1 has pages 1-120, volume 2 has pages 121-176, volume 3 has pages 177-250, etc.).

Pages: 567-570

Steps to finding the Full-Text Article

Step 1: Identify the title of the journal from the citation.

In this example, the title of the journal is Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

Step 2: Go directly to the journal search from the homepage

New search box with journals link circled

Step 3: Search for the title of the journal

journals search page

Step 4: Look at the holdings of the journal. 

Does the library's subscription dates include the year the article you need was published? 

journal search results

In this case, the article we need was published in 2009, so the second subscription option has the article we need.

Step 5: Enter the database using the link in the catalog record and retrieve the full text. 

Usually, you will need to "browse" through the online journal to find the correct year, volume, and issue number.  Sometimes there will be an option to search for the article in the journal.

Journal website drop-down menu


Journal website article results by issue


What if the MSU Libraries do not have an electronic subscription to the journal, but I see a catalog record for the print?

Make sure that the catalog record for our print copy of the journal includes the year your article was published.  Write down the call number and retrieve the journal from the stacks.  Journals that are 10 years or older may be checked out, otherwise make a photocopy of the article.

You can request electronic document delivery of the article using the MARS Article Retrieval Service with your ILLiad account.

What if the MSU Libraries do not have the journal at all, either in print or electronic form?

Request a copy of the article from another library.

Article requests are typically filled within 24-48 hours and will be delivered electronically via an email to your account.

I'm still confused, what should I do?

Ask a Librarian!

Citations that are NOT Journal Articles

Chapter from a Book

Huber, E. (1996). Options for social policy in latin america: Neoliberal versus social democratic models. In G. Esping-Andersen (Ed.), Welfare states in transition: National adaptations in global economies (pp. 141-191). London: Sage.

How to find the full-text:  Look up the title of the book in the library catalog.


Kawashima-Ginsberg, K. (2009). Examining the relationships among competencies and outcomes within the context of positive youth development programs. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 69(12 B), 7814.

How to find the full-text:  This citation is actually for a short entry in the periodical Dissertation Abstracts International, which indexes and abstracts dissertations submitted by North American colleges and universities.  When you find a dissertation abstract in a database, either listed directly as a dissertation or as an entry in the Dissertation Abstracts periodical, you will need to refer to the directions in the Finding Theses and Dissertations research guide.


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