BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

404 Wilson Rd. Room 251
Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Proxy access to papers on the web

Michigan State University’s library pays for subscriptions to a large number of publishers of journal articles, conference proceedings, books, and magazines. Unfortunately, the library’s search mechanisms are not nearly as fully featured as the rest of the Internet (e.g. Google scholar).

Quite often, I find myself Googling for some research paper, and then when I click on the paper it asks me to pay for it. This is very frustrating, because MSU has already paid for it on my behalf. Well, it turns out there is (usually) a fairly easy way to get around this paywall: MSU’s library has a proxy service called EZProxy. If you request the paper through the proxy service, then it will recognize that MSU has already paid for the paper and allow you to download it. If you try to view a paper through the library’s website, it automatically sends you through the proxy service.

However, there is an easier way, which I call “proxify”. You find the paper using Google or whatever way you normally want. Then you click a bookmark called “proxify”, which runs the current webpage through the MSU EZProxy. Then you can just download the paper. One click easy.

Option 1: This only works Firefox. Proxify . Right click on that proxify link and choose “Add link to bookmarks” (Safari) or “Bookmark this link” (Firefox).

Option 2: First, choose a webpage – any webpage – and create a new bookmark using your web browser. (In Chrome, click the star on the address bar; in Safari, go to Bookmarks –> Add Bookmark.) Then edit the bookmark by right clicking on it and choosing Edit (Chrome) or Bookmarks -> Edit Bookmarks (Safarti). Rename the bookmark “Proxify”. And then edit the address – the URL of the bookmark – and paste this into the address box:

javascript:var proxy="";location.href = proxy + location.href;

That’s it! Now try it out. Go view a paper on the ACM digital library. If you are off campus, You’ll notice that at the top of the page there is a link to “Get this Article” which is where you can pay for it. Don’t click that. Instead, click the “Proxify” bookmark in your browser. You might have to log into MSU if you aren’t already logged in. Once that’s done, you should be back at the same page looking at the paper, but there will be a link to download the PDF! That means the proxy is working; it recognizes you as from MSU and allows you to download the paper because MSU is already paying for it.

This is only needed if you are off campus; if you are on campus, you should already have direct access. Also, it doesn’t work for every publisher (grr, PyschNet); if it doesn’t work, then you’ll have to go search on the library’s website for the paper.