Systematic Reviews for the Social Sciences: Retrieval

Obtain full text

After appraising abstracts, your author team will have a set of abstracts they have coded as Include and wish to include in the review, a set of abstracts that they have coded as Maybe and which may be included, and a set of citations without abstracts which may be included in the review.

You must obtain the full items for all these citations.

Get Full Text Items

View the videos lower on this page to learn how to read a citation, how to find the full title of a journal from an abbreviation, and how to access online or print articles.

If we don't own the article you want, you can order it through Interlibrary Loan.

Your systematic review search may result in abstracts of conference proceedings or posters, reports on clinical trials, grey literature types, or other publication types. You should obtain the full item described by the abstract-- the full poster, the full report on the clinical trial, etc.  These are not often available through library licenses. Strategies for finding these:

  • Use the Grey Literature Guide to help you find full items of government, non-governmental, and regulatory reports, items presented at conferences, dissertations, theses, and other grey literature.
  • Clinicaltrials.gov includes results from some clinical trials.
  • Use Google to search for conferences and determine if posters and presentations are available.
  • Contact the authors of the item and ask for a copy.

USC Libraries does not offer a pull-and-copy service nor do we contact authors on your behalf; we expect authors to conduct the bulk of obtaining items themselves. If you provide a list of citations, we will instruct you in how to obtain items generally and refer you to the videos on this guide, and will ask you to return if you identify specific, individual, difficult-to-retrieve items. 

Share full text items with authors

Articles and other items obtained through USC's licenses are licensed for the exclusive use of USC students, staff, and faculty. Items obtained through DocRetriever are licensed for the exclusive use of the individual requesting the item. If your systematic review authors are not USC affiliates, YOU CANNOT SHARE COPIES. The non-USC authors must obtain items using their own institutional licenses or purchase their own copies. Most Universities have similar policies, so your partners from other schools cannot give you copies.

If you retrieve items from free sources, you'll need to read copyright information carefully to determine if you can share a copy with your co-authors.

Once you've retrieved the items, all authors need to have access to the full text of each item. Some authors save e-copies into a shared drive or place print copies in a shared physical file folder. Citation Management software such as EndNote, Refworks, etc. can also store file attachments. However, these programs have limited storage capacities, so ensure your product can hold the number of items you anticipate obtaining before committing. 

You'll need the actual item described by each citation you have gathered to move onto the next step: Appraise Full Text Articles.

How to Read an Article Citation

Finding Full Journal titles from abbreviated titles