I know that it is possible to write a script that attempts to use the ezproxy that most universities use to download papers directly using some search query. I have seen a perl implementation of this but was looking for something a bit cleaner and hopefully in python.
I don't mind having the script only be able to work within a university network, but it would have to be able to check if the paper is accessible via the current IP or such. Not sure how feasible this is, thus my question...
Mechanize is a great tool. You could even go an use twill (a library built on Mechanize) to further simplify the usage that you are after: http://pypi.python.org/pypi/twill/0.9
I second twill. Much easier to use than Mechanize for most simple tasks.