Author(s): Brandy Perkl, Ph.D.

Originally posted: December 9, 2014 Updated: Spring 2016
Tech Recommendations Disclaimer: Prices and platforms I recommend change over time, if you want updated ideas, email me!

Important Update! If you have Paperpile, their software can do this automatically. Simply follow the instructions here to connect your library’s EZproxy account to Paperpile, and never have to worry about finding the original pdf again!

I can’t believe I only recently discovered this extension, it’s going to save me hundreds of hours. In a nutshell, it connects you to your University’s library databases of articles from any site when off campus – no more finding something in one place and then having to go get it myself from the library website if I need a full pdf or something. EZ Proxy is just something I click if I get to a page on say Wiley or some other publisher site and it won’t let me access the article pdf. It will attempt to reload the page through the UA servers so if we have access to the article I should be able to get the PDF nice and fast that way.

Example of how I was using it with Paperpile (before their update): I do a Google Scholar search for gobbledygook and a result comes up – next to it is the little Add to Paperpile button, which I click. But I notice that a PDF of the file didn’t attach automatically – it says ‘pdf restricted’ in PaperPile. Well, now I can follow the link to that gobbledygook article, click on my EZ Proxy extension button in Chrome, wait a second while it reloads the page with UA access, and then usually I’ll find that I DO have access to the full PDF thanks to the UA. After that I can right click on the link to that pdf and tell Paperpile to add it to that record, so I always have full files of the articles I am adding to my reference manager. (Sidenote: If I’m adding a webpage I use something like Readability instead to generate a nice clean readable PDF to attach to my records. I do this EVERY TIME, it’s worth it to make sure you never lose a webpage or need the Wayback Machine to save you when something on the web changes that you still want to reference.)

I know lots of people don’t need this, but since I work off campus most of the time I don’t have the luxury of on-campus automatic access to our library database when I find articles through Google or other search options, it really comes in handy.

Once you’ve installed it, right click on it to open the Options, then add in the proxy domain for your school (University of Arizona was ezproxy1.library.arizona.edu when I wrote this, but it could change), hit Save and voila! All done! My options look like this currently:

The next time you use Google Scholar or something to look at an article online, but have no pdf access, just click the EZProxy button in your Chrome bar and if your library has the rights to it, you’ll have full results to the pdf right then.

P.S. Those results also then imported perfectly (with a full pdf attachment) to PaperPile and Zotero. It’s so beautiful when things work that well!

[Spring 2016 Update: I moved over to PaperPile for reference management due to how much I use Google Docs with my colleagues and students, but before that I had my Zotero Standalone all tricked out with some fancy add-ons like ZotFile and had it set up to use an online database to store my files. It’s not safe to store your Zotero directory in the cloud, but your files can be kept there easily so you never need to pay for storage. If you’d like a nice clean breakdown of these Zotero management plans and some other options – check this page out. Or for a really detailed walk-through – try this page.]

This post was updated in homage to the UA’s Spring 2016 participation in Love Your Data week & in honor of their support in knowledge and data management.

I stumbled on this brilliant idea while using Zotero and seeing that Ron Lubensky, a clearly wonderful human being, had the same issues I did. He wrote a great post all the way back in 2011 on why he made this extension and how he uses this to help him work with Zotero and Chrome more efficiently.

Image of the UAZ Library sourced from Wikipedia.