Sometimes I have trouble finding particular papers. Does anyone have any general suggestions?

I find myself in this situation frequently: An author references a paper. I find it on MathSciNet and read the abstract. I then realize I want to read the paper. Then I cannot find the paper.

Is there any better approach besides just using Google Scholar, Google, the author's webpage, JStor and MathSciNet? I am at a University, and have some access to catalogues.

Specifically I wanted to read this but I can't seem to do it online.

Thanks a lot!

Update: I ended up finding the paper by talking to a Professor I know who had a PDF on hand. None of the links below lead to the correct paper, which is why I have not accepted an answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ SpringerLink is also worth considering since you're at a university and probably have access to it. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2011 at 1:44
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Dear Eric, Just to clarify (inspired by @GEdgar's answer); is the issue here that your library doesn't carry the relevant journal, or in your question, is "cannot find the paper" synonymous with "cannot find the paper online"? Regards, $\endgroup$
    – Matt E
    May 23, 2011 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ A related post on MathOverflow: How to locate an obscure paper? $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 9:22

5 Answers 5


One thing we did in the Olden Days... go to the library. Another was... write to the author.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The library at my grad school always had a copy of the article I was looking for, and you can even ask the librarian for help finding it. $\endgroup$
    – JavaMan
    May 23, 2011 at 1:57
  • 15
    $\begingroup$ In addition, most university libraries have inter-library loan services; if your university does not carry the journal, they can often request copies for you from other near-by libraries. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2011 at 2:13


Actually, I just took a stab at searching again, and came up with this PDF, by Moree, with same title...hope it helps...(I love researching stuff!) Here's what might be the paper you're looking for (same author, title as the article you're looking for): arXiv: Moree, pdf.

Of course, you may still want a copy of the published article, and if not available at your university, requesting an inter-library loan (photocopy of published article) would be your best bet. In the meantime, you can peruse the arXiv article?

You can find the article at SpringerLink here. There, the article of interest is available to individuals for purchase, though it would be worth checking if your Uni has institutional access if you can wait!

Also, I've had good luck with Google, Google Scholar, authors webpages...emailing author (yes it works, I've had wonderful encounters that way!).

UPDATE 2: Please be sure to scroll down to read J.M.'s "process" post; it's worth the read in terms of approaching a search for academic publications!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Being contacted directly is usually quite gratifying (as an author). However, I personnaly do not answer people who do not take the time to explain what they do and why they need the paper. $\endgroup$
    – Sebastien
    May 23, 2011 at 3:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Sebastien: Absolutely; that is quite understandable. Part of the joy of making such contacts with authors is sharing who I am, and why I'm interested in one or more of their works, etc. I've never encountered a "cold shoulder." It's good to know that authors, like yourself, feel gratified, as well. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    May 23, 2011 at 3:20
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I'm always amazed by the ridiculus prices these online services ask for such a paper. In the case at hand, they want 34 Euro from me - for 13 pages! Are there really people willing to pay this? $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    May 23, 2011 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo: did you see the link at the top: the Update, so to speak? The article you're looking for is available at arxive.org: it downloads when you click on the link. Pagination is probably different that the published article, and it may have been revised before publication, though it has a 2002 stamp on it. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    May 23, 2011 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo: I know, it's outrageous what they want for a single article! $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    May 23, 2011 at 5:22

Here's the method I used for this search. Most of the time, it works; although I kept hitting dead ends in this case :( , I hope that similar methods might help people wishing to do journal searches.

One particularly good search engine I use when presented with the name of a journal is JournalSeek. (There is also OJOSE, but I've personally found it cumbersome to use.) In this case, typing expositiones mathematicae netted this page, which links to the archives of Elsevier.

If I hadn't known about the exact name of the journal and only had the abbreviation Exposition. Math. to start with, I'd have used JAS. (The ads are bothersome, sure, but it's free!) This nets me the name I can now give to JournalSeek.

Most of the time, I get to the paper's source with this approach. Unfortunately, our luck runs out here upon looking at ScienceDirect, since only volumes 19 and onward are in digital format. :( (Maybe somebody can bug Elsevier to finish digitizing their archives for this journal... ;) )

So the publisher's site was a dead end. We try searching for web pages of the authors. Some legwork through Google netted this page and this page for Moree. His coauthor, Cazaran, does not seem to have a current web page, even after I tried searching under her new surname, Vertigan. LinkedIn points to her being at LSU, but she does not have a web page there.

Proceeding with Moree's home page, his new home page gives a PDF listing his complete work, but nothing before 2000. Checking his old page links to a page where the required article might be, but we luck out here and the link's kaput. As a last resort, we try checking the Wayback Machine, in the hopes that their crawler managed to grab something before that page went kaput. We see here the page, and it looks as if there used to be a DVI of that paper. Unfortunately the links to the DVI here do not work. (Most times, though, the Wayback Machine manages to grab PDF/PS/DVI/whatever files, unless a robots.txt file with the appropriate lines was in place.)

So, this particular paper chase ended up as a wash, but the tools I have linked to above have been particularly helpful in most other cases.


A supplement to @J.M.'s answer : a possible reason why the paper is vanished is because the journal doesn't have the online version up to that year (which is a shame, it's only 1999)

enter image description here

Hence the possibility of finding that particular paper depends on individuals' effort to scan it and throw it onto web somewhere and hoping that webpage would be indexed.


It may be worth considering ResearchGate.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.