Free journal databases
The majority of online research databases are not free. Luckily, there are some exceptions, including the following good-quality free databases you can access from home. No registration is required – you just click on the link to access them.
Directory of Open Access Journals
The Directory of Open Access Journals provides free access to over 9000 journals. It covers a broad selection of subjects, including science, technology, social sciences and humanities.
The JURN database of free journals is particularly strong in the arts and humanities. It also includes material on such topics as science, medicine, business, law and politics.
CORE is a database of free research papers from across the world. It covers a broad selection of topics and links to over 6000 journals.
PMC (PubMed Central) is free database of medical literature, which includes millions of free articles from biomedical and life science journals. It's a great place to search for current medical research.
Research Data Australia
Research Data Australia is a database of research data covering over 100 Australian research organisations and cultural institutions. You can use it to find Australian research data on a variety of subjects, including science, art, social science and humanities.
A great way to search these databases is by using keywords. For example, if you're interested in finding articles about the management of gestational diabetes with diet, you could try searching with keywords such as:
gestational diabetes diet
- pregnancy diabetes diet
- gestational diabetes management
Each of the databases listed above will have a different combination of journals, data and reports available, so you may wish to search more than one database.
Many universities have an online research repository that promotes and shares the work of their university's researchers (including articles, theses and research outputs). They can be a great place to find the latest research on a topic. Examples include:
- Monash University Research Repository
- RMIT Research Repository
- ScholarBank@NUS – National University of Singapore
- Zurich Open Repository and Archive – University of Zurich
You can find a list of Australian and New Zealand university repositories on the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group website. To find international repositories, search or browse the Directory of Open Access Repositories.
While free databases and repositories can provide good-quality information, paid or subscription databases will usually have more content. However, they can be very expensive to access.
Fortunately, libraries subscribe to many of these databases, which means that you don't have to! You can access many databases for free inside a library, or from home if you become a library member and have a library card.
As libraries subscribe to different databases, containing different journals, you may wish to join several libraries to get access to more material.
You can get a library card from the National Library of Australia, State Library Victoria and public libraries.
Things to remember
- There are a number of free databases that you can access from home
- For the best results, search multiple databases
- To access a more extensive range of subscription databases for free, become a library member
Now, let's take a look at how to search library databases.