10 Free Research and Journal Databases
  • 3-minute read
  • 6th April 2019

10 Free Research and Journal Databases

Finding good research can be tough, especially when so much of it is locked behind paywalls. But there are free resources out there if you know where to look. So to help out, we’ve compiled a list of ten free academic search engines and databases that you should check out.

1. Google Scholar

Even if you’ve not used Google Scholar before, you’ll know Google. And, thus, you can probably guess that Google Scholar is a search engine dedicated to academic work. Not everything listed on Google Scholar will be freely available in full. But it is a good place to start if you’re looking for a specific paper, and many papers can be downloaded for free.


CORE is an open research aggregator. This means it works as a search engine for open access research published by organizations from around the world, all of which is available for free. It is also the world’s largest open access aggregator, so it is a very useful resource for researchers!

Core logo.

3. Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)

Another dedicated academic search engine, BASE offers access to more than 140 million documents from more than 6,000 sources. Around 60% of these documents are open access, and you can filter results to see only research that is available for free online.

4. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a database that lists around 12,000 open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science, and the humanities.

5. PubMed

PubMed is a search engine maintained by the NCBI, part of the United States National Library of Medicine. It provides access to more than 29 million citations of biomedical research from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. The NCBI runs a similar search engine for research in the chemical sciences called PubChem, too, which is also free to use.

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PubMed logo.

6. E-Theses Online Service (EThOS)

Run by the British Library, EThOS is a database of over 500,000 doctoral theses. More than half of these are available for free, either directly via EThOS or via a link to a university website.

7. Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

SSRN is a database for research from the social sciences and humanities, including 846,589 research papers from 426,107 researchers across 30 disciplines. Most of these are available for free, although you may need to sign up as a member (also free) to access some services.

8. WorldWideScience

WorldWideScience is a global academic search engine, providing access to national and international scientific databases from across the globe. One interesting feature is that it offers automatic translation, so users can have search results translated into their preferred language.

WorldWideScience logo.

9. Semantic Scholar

Semantic Scholar is an “intelligent” academic search engine. It uses machine learning to prioritize the most important research, which can make it easier to find relevant literature. Or, in Semantic Scholar’s own words, it uses influential citations, images, and key phrases to “cut through the clutter.”

10. Public Library of Science (PLOS)

PLOS is an open-access research organization that publishes several journals. But as well as publishing its own research, PLOS is a dedicated advocate for open-access learning. So if you appreciate the search engines and databases we’ve listed here, check out the rest of the PLOS site to find out more about their campaign to enable access to knowledge.

Comments (11)
Eva mbwana
9th October 2019 at 11:37
Good information
A.C.H. De Silva
28th July 2020 at 08:42
As the Librarian of Australian College of Business & Technology I would like to have this free services of these databases to help our students, lecturers & researchers . To be a globally recognized and respectful private Educational Institute we prepare internationally competitive graduates, promote vales of sustainable society & conduct outstanding research to improve the quality of life. . The Library of ACBT is a center of excellence & is the live wire of the college that caters to its clientele to enhance the knowledge & improve their reading habits. The library as the part of the academic role provides services to a large group of students following various courses in ACBT & the academic staff. Therefore these databases would be benefitted to all our research students & the faculty. Therefore we would like you to grant permission to use this facility to access these online data bases free of charge. Thank you Hemali De Silva/ Librarian
    28th July 2020 at 14:17
    Hi, Hemali. The resources in this post should be free to access for everyone. If there is a problem, let us know and we can update the post. But if you're having an issue with one of the databases listed here, you'll need to contact the relevant organisation.
    Glory Okeagu
    20th February 2022 at 17:43
    Thank you for sharing. I will explore these resources in our library for our users.
Amarachi Glory Alala
22nd September 2021 at 15:19
Thank you for sharing this knowledge. I am a librarian from Clifford University, Owerrinta, Abia State Nigeria. I would be pleased if my institution will have access to these publications online. It will help our students and lecturers alot.
23rd February 2022 at 07:55
Thank you for the information. I am a librarian from American University, Bahrain.I also would like to have permission to use these publications online. It will help our students and faculty with their academic research.
    23rd February 2022 at 10:18
    Hi, Bindu. All of these databases are free to use, but you might need to contact individual publishers/authors if you're hoping to distribute particular articles online. I'd imagine most authors will be open to doing so, though.
Wondwossen Adugna
12th May 2022 at 20:19
I am an Ethiopian American educator. Although access to higher education in Ethiopia has improved dramatically over the last twenty years, education quality and academic integrity has been very questionable, to put it mildly. Recently, I along with a few colleagues, founded a small academic institute in Ethiopia: Pinnacle Institute of Business and Commerce. Our primary purpose is to provide quality graduate and professional business education with the at most academic integrity at affordable prices. However, accomplishing this on a "shoestring budget", has been quite a challenge for us. Like many of the educators who commented above, I would like, on behalf of our students and staff, to request a permission to share these resources in our classrooms and library to be used for academic research by staff and students.
    13th May 2022 at 09:29
    Hi, Wondwossen. All of the resources mentioned in this post are free to use. If you want to reproduce or redistribute any of the papers you find in these databases, you may have to contact the relevant publishers and/or authors. However, you can typically use academic works for reference or research without permission.
Rabiya Ali Faridi
19th May 2022 at 08:18
I am Rabiya from Karachi Pakistan, Librarian at Notre Dame institute of Education ,this is really good and helpful sharing. Thank you so much
Ryan Saenz
3rd August 2023 at 23:29
Here's another one too: Expontum (https://www.expontum.com/) - Helps researchers quickly find knowledge gaps and identify what research projects have been completed before. Thanks!

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