So there are these great research databases, like PubMed, that basically tell you, "A solution exists!" Or really, there exists an article described with these metadata* that might answer your question. So how do you get from knowing that an article exists to having it open on your screen?
Otherwise, if you're looking at said article, and it's got a fascinating reference to another article... how do you go from knowing that article exists to having it on your screen?
We at fancy research institutions have this awesome tool that goes from there exists an article to having it on your screen. There are 3-4 major vendors of this kind of product. Ours is SFX from Ex Libris** and we've branded it Findit! We have tons of e-journals, books, conference papers, etc. So we load into this database our holdings, including what year and all. For the big deals, I believe we can just pick off the right package. Then, when you're in a research database you click on the happy little FindIt button, and it does! If you're in PubMed, and you have the libx toolbar, you can click on the PubMed ID. Or, you can go to the FindIt page, and copy the PMID into there or the citation into there. SHAZAM! Even if our access is through an aggregator, ADS, or JSTOR, you can get to it from there.
AND, if that isn't enough to be thankful for, ours is blinged up with the Xerxes add on so it calls APIs from Scopus and WoS - you can see right from there if the article has been cited and click through to the citing articles. You can also see if it's on the shelf in the library (important for book).***
Are these perfect? No, far from it... but they are *so* much better than not having them. Thank you!
*data about data. Like author, title, journal title, year, volume, page, doi, ISSN, MeSH or keywords...
** not affiliated/not an endorsement.