November 11, 2020

10 Free Academic Databases for Students

Thanks to the internet and modern technology, doing research is much easier for modern students. Of course, the college library is great, but having access to peer-reviewed sources from all over the world on your laptop is on another level.

Both undergraduate and graduate students benefit from academic sources online. The only problem is that they are not easy to find. Google search doesn’t work as good with academic resources and even if it finds something, it is probably available only for purchase.

But finding a free academic database that suits your needs is completely possible. We’ve gathered some advice from higher education pros and essay writing service professionals from that have to access lots of academic papers constantly. Here’s a list of the best free databases for students to find references and to study effectively.

1. Google Scholar

It is rather a search engine than a database, but it offers only peer-reviewed results. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning as it helps to find articles on any subject or topic. Not all of them are free, but some are available in full size. There is also a convenient reference feature that offers a reference already in MLA or APA to copy to the paper. Any student can use it as a first tool to look something up.


This is an excellent platform that gives access to millions of open academic papers online. It shows only free and available in full-text results. The majority of them link to the other websites, but about 5 million papers are hosted directly on the platform. There is no need for registration. The search has advanced features, so you can find something according to your curriculum.

There is an opportunity to look up sources not only by keywords but also by type of publication, year, or author. It offers results on any discipline, which means that it will fit perfectly for any course.


It is the Directory of Open Access Journals to be precise. If you want to learn or to revise something, it is a great place to start. Here, one can access more than 15,000 journals from scientists on any subject. All of them are peer-reviewed and scientifically approved. So whether you need to get a Master’s Degree in Law or to prepare for an exam in Science, look it up. Everything is free and available without registration.

4. Opencourseware

This is the MIT website that offers free and full access to course materials. One can watch a lecture or listen to a podcast from MIT courses. The majority of them are introductory but if you are looking for more knowledge in a particular field, it is a good place to go. All materials can be downloaded without any issues. There are presentations, lectures, readings, and assignments. Overall, it is a great place to extend one’s knowledge on particular topics.

5. EThOS

This platform is offered by the British Library, so it features mainly UK authors. But is a great source of the most recent and innovative works. It is a database of e-theses that can be freely accessed by any student in the world. There are more than half a million doctoral theses. It is a great help for someone looking up for a Doctoral degree as they can get a real-life example of dissertations. And it is a perfect opportunity to learn more from current scientists.

6. Science Open

This is an amazing multidisciplinary database with access to over 65 million publications across the globe. It is open for researchers and authors, so any professor or lecturer can publish their works there. There are about 25,000 peer-reviewed journals and 27 million authors available. The site requires registration, but it is free once you register. The benefit is not only a wide variety of papers but also an advanced search mechanism. One can narrow down results to many specific factors to find exactly what they need.

7. Archives Hub

Archives Hub is exactly what it sounds like. The site offers the opportunity to search through more than 350 British institutions to find any source or article listed there. One can search by the topic or keywords directly. They have a blog and feature for contributors. There is also an advanced search feature which helps to find exactly what you are looking for.

8. EBSCO Open Dissertations

This is a database of American Doctoral Dissertations that offers more than 1.2 million papers to everyone.  Doctoral students can also submit their dissertations in an electronic format to the platform. There is also an advanced search. It is a great resource for graduate students and those who are interested in the most recent research data.

9. arXiv ePrint Archive

It is a website that focuses on Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics so it is most useful for STEM students. It is quite old as it was founded in 1993 and is run by Cornell University. It is completely free and open-source, but one can donate to help the organization. There are more than 1,7 million academic articles and materials available. They are distributed by subjects and not peer-reviewed by the site.  It is a useful source for various materials.

10. Public Library of Science

It is a non-profit publishing organization that focuses primarily on Science and Healthcare. Scientists and researchers can participate in their mission – to share academic knowledge for increased progress. Everything is available for free, which means that several peer-reviewed journals are open for students interested in Biology, Genetics, Medicine, Pathogens, or Tropical Diseases. The main benefit is that the studies at the forefront of science are published here. So if you are looking for something new and relevant, this is the place to go.

In Summary

These are not all databases out there; many others exist openly, especially specific to a particular industry or field of knowledge. Governmental institutions often offer access to archives, statistical data, or current analysis. And some websites offer partial free access to academic papers. In any case, with these 10 platforms, almost any student will be good to go.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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