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Encountering Broken Article Links When Database Searching. What Should You Do?

You’re searching in PubMed or another HSLS database and you find what looks like the perfect article. You click on the article’s download link and to your dismay you encounter a broken link. You may see a request to pay money for the article, or be asked to enter a username and password, or perhaps you get an error message. It’s very frustrating when this occurs. There are numerous reasons why links break. But as long as you’re accessing a database via HSLS, you should never be asked to pay or enter a username/password in order to view an article. If this happens, it means the link is broken.

What should you do? First, let us know about the broken link by sending an e-mail to That way, we can quickly fix it. In the meantime, there is something else you should always try when you encounter a broken article link. Search the e-journal title in HSLS’s Pitt Resources Quick Search. Do this and there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to successfully access your article.

Using Pitt Resources Quick Search to Locate Full-Text Articles

Pitt Resources Quick Search offers a quick search of PITTCat, the University’s online catalog. Use PITTCat to retrieve the titles of journals, books, electronic resources, and more from any Pitt library.

To find an e-journal:

  1. The Pitt Resources Quick Search box is located on the HSLS home page. It is the default option of search.HSLS.
  2. Type the full e-journal title, or the first part of the title, in the search box (Figure 1). A drop-down menu may appear, offering an autocomplete option.

    Figure 1: Pitt Resources Quick Search box

    Figure 1: Pitt Resources Quick Search box

  3. On the results page, resources available online from HSLS are listed first, in a highlighted box at the top of the results list, with links to retrieved full-text e-journals (Figure 2).

    Figure 2: Electronic resource box

    Figure 2: Electronic Resources box

  4. Once you’ve accessed the e-journal, you can now go to the desired volume and issue and the full-text article you want to see.

For more information, contact the HSLS Main Desk at 412-648-8866 or send an e-mail to Ask a Librarian.

~Jill Foust

Posted in the June 2017 Issue