I want to link to a scientific article (actually so I can ask a question on another SE site) and I was wondering what is the proper way of doing so? I know going around a paywall is illegal and I don't want to do anything like that?

So what is the proper way to link to an article so that I may ask a question about it?

How do I maximize access to it? For example, I'm seeing the article behind Paywall A, but another user has access to Paywall B (where the article may also be available, but would obviously have different link.)

2 Answers 2


The most straightforward way is to provide a regular scientific citation. The users can then use their individual library or online service to access the article.

Alternatively, you could just provide a link to the most canonical location. Even if the reader can't access the article, he or she will find the bibliographical details there as well. (Thanks for this suggestion in the comments.)

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    It sounds like this isn't a paper but a hyperlink. So while it can't hurt to give the other details that would allow someone to search for it, I'd imagine that providing a link to the most canonical location .... where most people would find it, even if behind a paywall, would be best. I assume that the paywall would provide details (authors, maybe abstract) and simply ask for money to get the PDF. One can then see if it is available other ways. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:04
  • @Fred Douglis good point. I'll update my answer if you don't mind. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:09
  • You're most welcome. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:18
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    Perhaps a doi is worth mentioning as a way of linking to articles. www.dx.doi.org. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:55

Trying to second-guess what a reader has access to in the mess of overlapping paywalls and authentication systems that cover academic literature is a lost cause. Better to provide a single clear link to the version of record on the publisher's website, and let the reader work from there to get access.

Usually the best way of linking to an article is with its DOI, or Digital Object Identifier. Journals and other organisations assign DOIs and commit to keeping them working for the long term: a website may change, resulting in different direct URLs, but the DOI will still work. To follow a DOI to its current target location, simply enter "dx.doi.org/" followed by the DOI as a URL. As a globally unique identifier for an article it is also useful when searching for that article on other systems

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