Welcome to the article, where you will find free sources for academic materials. You will need the list for studies, research, and generally, every time you need high-quality information.

Why you need the databases

We all are accustomed to search for things on Google and trust the results it gives. Of course, Google worths it, as its algorithms are crawling the web day and night to provide its users with quality information. 

Google also provides the opportunity to search in Google Scholar and filters the search results to show only academic ones.

However, if your interest in certain topics goes above personal curiosity, and you want to explore things deeper than just gaining a general understanding of them, you should transfer your search to academic platforms.

Academic databases contain solely scholarly materials. Here, you are guaranteed to read materials written and often reviewed by industry experts. Topics are explored in detail with a comprehensive view, supported with original studies and experiments.

The university professors will probably also guide you through academic platforms as the main requirement for further research is using scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.

There are hundreds of academic journal databases you can access. The below list contains 5 paid and 15 free databases more frequently used and cited in academic communities.


Elsevier is a global leader in information and analytics. Since 2000, 99% of Noble Laureates in Science were published in Elsevier. The platform is mainly focused on health science and supports its partners worldwide to enhance global healthcare research.

The platform is not free, but you can use open-access journals, all peer-reviewed and available for immediate reading and download upon request. 


SpringerLink provides its users with the daily refreshed pool of journals, books, series, protocols, reference works, and proceedings. You can access more than 7,4 mln academic articles on the platform, the majority being in the field of medicine and public health.

Other topics popular on the platform include medicine, economics, engineering, architecture, and transportation. 


The main areas you can research in Brill include Humanities and Social Sciences, International Law, and certain areas in the Sciences. You can find 560 books, seven journals, and 14 reference work in the current collection of open access content. 

A big portion of Brill’s studies is African Studies, American studies, Ancient Near eAST AND Egypt, and Art History. You can access the content related to the mentioned fields, both paid and free. 

Taylor and Francis

Taylor and Francis offer more than 4,5 mln articles and advance search opportunities. It’s part of the Academic Publishing Division Informa PLC. 

Aiming to allow everyone to access the previous research and add a new word to the existing base, Taylor and Francis have the program for open access. You can search both full free access and open select articles in the source.  


JSTOR is a highly selective source for 12 million academic journal articles, 85,000 books, and 2 million primary source documents in 75 disciplines. You can read more on the platform in our article dedicated to JSTOR’s operation and main features.

The platform’s materials are accessible via paid subscription. However, as a pandemic-support measure, you can access 100 free articles every month for free. To utilize the opportunity, you should register an individual account on the platform. 

The above five databases are not free, yet they are the leading players in the industry. You may benefit from their partial free access opportunities. Besides, the below list also offers 15 platforms that you may use charge-free for all services. 

Education Resources Information Center

ERIC is offered for free and without subscription by the Institution of Education Sciences sponsorship. It's intended to provide academics, researchers, educators, and policymakers with access to the scholarly content in their fields. The database includes journal articles, books, and grey literature, and yearly updates of its content providers' list.

ERIC's search allows you to filter the full-text and peer-reviewed materials. The two options are available right under the database's main search section and can significantly ease your research and citation process.

Directory of Open Access Journals

You have the option to search both for journals and separate articles in 80 languages on DOAJ. The search results can be filtered by title, subject, publisher, or ISSN. 

Since its establishment in 2003, the database has increased its reserve of open access journals from 300 to 15,000. You can use the source to get scholarly articles in science, technology, medicine, social sciences, humanities, and arts. 

The platform is subscription-free and operates with the donations of open access supporters. 

Public Library of Science

PLOS has a mission to contribute to research, mainly in the spheres of science and medicine. The platform's history began in 2000, with the idea of establishing an open library for scholarly materials. PLOS carries the concept behind its establishment up to current, supporting the availability of open data. 

In 2003, PLOS established its PLOS Biology open access journal as an alternative for all the existing paid ones in the field. The first article in the journal attracted almost 500,000 readers a few hours after the publication. 

Digital Library of the Commons Repository

You have the open access opportunity to full-text articles, papers, and dissertations. The majority of common-pool resources are in agriculture, forest resources, grazing areas, history, social organization, wildlife, etc

The repository website includes a detailed description of which narrow topics you can access within each category. 


Paperity is the central source for thousands of journals across hundreds of disciplines. To make a reader experience smoother and more convenient, they also offer Paperity for IOS - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/paperity/id1331531819 and Paperity for Android. With the apps, you can access the materials also from mobile. 

Paperity joins the movement supporting open access of academic materials for scholars and partners with EBSCO Information Services, OCLC, Altmetric, StrikePlagiarism.com. 

Science Open

Use Science Open to freely access 66 mln publications, 25K journals from 27 mln authors. It offers packages of features for the main three groups of its stakeholders.

 Publishers have the opportunity to promote their works through the selected community. Institutions can create and develop their OA brand within the platform, and researchers can discover the latest developments in their field from the abundance of materials. 


Core is a pool of 24,9 mln full-text research papers, 207 mln searchable research papers from more than 12,500 data providers in 147 countries. The platform offers a toolbox for accessing raw data, content discovery, and managing content. 

As for December 2020, Core hosted 30 mln visits every month. It's considered to have one of the richest reserves of scholarly content in its database. Core's premium service FastSync is designed for enterprise communities, both large companies, and small start-ups. It allows having incremental access to Core. 

arXiv e-Print Archive

arXiv suggests you open access to more than 1,8 mln scholarly articles. However, the articles are not peer-reviewed by arXiv members themselves. The platform operates since 1991 and currently ic curated by Cornell University. 

The main academic disciplines you can research on arXiv include Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance, Statistics, Electrical Engineering, Systems Science, and Economics. 

Social Science Research Network

In SSRN, more than 503,000 researchers are committed to making more than 950,000 research papers freely available for you. Among the 55 academic disciplines it covers, currently, the platform also offers Covid-related research.

SSRN was created in 1994 when its main focus was on Social Sciences. Modern SSRN covers fields from applied sciences to humanities. Social Science gives a stage to early-stage research publications, which appear on the platform before being published in academic journals. 


OpenDOAR offers wide search opportunities among the global repositories available on the platform. For faster and more targeted search, you are free to choose among ten advanced search features, including organizing the search results by country, subjects, content types, etc. 

OpenDOAR is the result of cooperation between the University of Nottingham and Lund University. The platform started its operation in 2005. It is highly selective with the repositories it accepts. Therefore be sure your searching time here will take you to the desired result. 


You may guess from the platform's name that it's mostly related to Business and Economics. You may filter your search here to get only open access materials. Additionally, detailed search filters include the number of pages, format, source, language, etc. 

Platform cares about educating its users by conducting fast and quality scholarly research. A research skills section will assess your information literacy and support in searching, evaluating, and citing scholarship materials. If you still need support, Research Guide EconDesk will answer your questions charge-free. 


DRYAD operates with no or modest charges, as it doesn't chase for profit. The platform cooperates with educational institutions for providing students automatic login with university credentials. 

Dryad receives materials from researchers in any format. However, the drafts undergo a detailed curation and checking before they are published. In some cases, the Dryad team may contact the authors with advice on how to make the research better. Therefore, you may consider it as a good source for not only searching for others' written materials but also cooperating to improve yours. 


If your sphere of research in life science and you are interested in biomedical literature, PubMed is a good destination to access free scholarly materials. The database obtains and provides a large database of medical literature to support both personal and public health. 

Currently, there are 30 mln citations and abstracts in PubMed. However, the platform doesn't usually contain the full-text version of materials. Rather it includes the links to the full-texts from other sources, where they are available. 

Semantic Scholar

Semantic Scholar is an AI-powered tool for conducting your research. The team considers great inventions like the cure of cancer can be invented with the correct organization and distribution of the research among the field community. 

Every year, the platform adds new research materials. Semantic was found in 2015, and in 2018 it already contained more than 42,500 academic journals. Platform cooperates with industry partners such as Microsoft Academic, Springer Nature, and other scholarly societies. 

Readers Guide Retrospective

Here, you can access about three mln articles provided by 550 leading magazines. The good point is that the majority of the materials are peer-reviewed. The database includes materials covering global significance events such as Neil Armstrong's first walk on the moon, the end of the Vietnam War, etc. 

Library Journal recognizes the platform as one of the "50 Best Reference Sources for Millenium". The materials are available mainly in Excel and HTML formats. 

You may find the subscription to the mentioned academic databases a good idea, as they constantly update content and features to support research and academic cooperation. 

Published on Jan 21, 2021