This exact scenario happened to me, when I was trawling through the reference list of a taphonomy paper. I came across a paper published in 2004 titled 'Taphonomy of Freshwater Turtles: Decay and Disarticulation in Controlled Experiments' from the Journal of Taphonomy. My immediate thought: "Hooray! Here's another paper on reptile decay, of which there are very few!" Rapidly followed by: "Errr, how did I miss this? What else have I missed?"
When I'm looking for journal papers, I normally start with Google Scholar and use some broad search terms, and then sometimes try the UQ library search engine. To find something like the 2004 turtle decay paper, I would use something like 'taphonomy reptiles experiment'. These are the results you'd get:
Searching for the exact title doesn't even bring up a reference or citation. So, I decided to search for 'Journal of Taphonomy' and look what I got:
- The Journal of Taphonomy is not open access, and our library does not have a subscription to it. So papers listed in it would not appear in the UQ library search engine.
- The papers from this journal are not indexed properly on Google Scholar: the search results show all the papers titled 'Journal of Taphonomy', but with authors and year of publication listed below correctly.
- Finally, this particular turtle taphonomy paper is not indexed by Google at all.