There is an ever increasing amount of bat related research happening in the UK and around the world.

In addition to the challenge of keeping up to date, actually finding copies of the latest papers can be a problem.

Science Direct is an online database that allows anyone to search by various fields to find abstracts of papers they are interested in. The database will let you see the abstract but not the full paper (without a subscription or paying a one-off fee per article).

However, there are other ways of accessing full articles that will not cost you a penny! Here are some suggestions:

1. Check whether the publication is Open Access (i.e. free!). Some of the journals that are open access and publish bat research include:

  • Barbastella, Journal of Bat Research (an annual publication available online, with papers on a wide variety of projects from the UK, Europe and further afield)
  • Scottish Bats (online journal where bat workers, researchers and enthusiasts share their experiences and knowledge of bats in Scotland)
  • Northern Bats (online resource for publishing the results of bat work in the North of England)
  • PLOS One (open access journal which regularly publishes bat related research)
  • Versptilio (annual online publication by the Czech Bat Conservation Society)
  • Wiley Open Access (access to a number of journals including Ecology and Evolution)
  • Occasionally journals will have special open access editions, as the Journal of Ecology did to celebrate International Open Access Week a couple of years ago and the Journal of Applied Ecology has done with its virtual issue about conservation evidence in October 2014

2. Google Scholar may also be used to search for papers and, whilst it may not have the full versions of every article you are after, the search results will include links to the full paper where these are publically available (e.g. from a University website or a researcher’s homepage)

3. Search Google for the author and check their website. Many academics provide links to papers they have published from their own websites or their pages on their academic institution’s website. It helps to narrow down the search if you can name the author in full and their institution.

4. Search JSTOR, an online library of journal papers and academic e-books. If you set-up a free individual researcher account with JSTOR you can read up to three papers every two weeks.

5. Contact the author to ask if they can provide you with a copy of their paper. Most abstracts will list the email address for the ‘corresponding author’, i.e. the person to contact if you would like to discuss the paper. If you email them and explain why you are interested then many authors will be happy to send you a copy of their paper.

6. Try your local university library. A proportion of libraries at academic institutions provide some access to people from the local area. You are unlikely to be able to borrow books or journals but you should be able to read them in the library. Do check if that institution subscribes to the journal you are after and what their non-student access arrangements are (you should be able to find the right contact number through a telephone directory, online or the university’s switchboard).

If all else fails and you cannot access the paper for free, your local library may be able to obtain a copy of the paper for a fee. You can also use the British Library Document Supply Service via their online facility where you can order copies of papers directly. There is a charge for each paper supplied and you will need to register as a user but more information is available on the British Library website.