Undergraduate research is relatively young. It supposedly emerged in the late 19th century but gained popularity only after the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program by MIT was introduced in 1969.
Today, this is a crucial part of most Bachelor’s degree programs. It is also a necessary requirement for those willing to continue with higher education.
This task has never been easy, whatever academic level you are currently on. But modern students have so many more opportunities to perform it faster and more effectively than their predecessors from several decades ago!
Back then, students had to spend hours in libraries, manually searching for books and journal articles. Now, most of the resources are only some mouse clicks away. What’s more, you can always use some help from online essay writer service and the platforms alike.
The research process has also been simplified when online educational databases emerged. Today, many campuses provide access to the largest ones like Scopus and Web of Science along with access to traditional offline libraries. Yet, students often work on their research off-campus where this option is not available.
Luckily, there are also plenty of great educational databases that are completely free. We’ve put together a list of the best and most popular of them. First, take a look at our guidelines on how to conduct your undergraduate research step-by-step to get a high mark.
So, your professor has assigned you a topic. Here are the three basic steps you have to follow to make your work on it fast and effective:
First, determine what kind of sources and how many of them you will need to study for your paper.
This information can be provided by your professor or tutor, and it is important to find it out before starting your work. For example, in some cases, only peer-reviewed journal articles are accepted, so there’s no need for you to waste time on other types of sources.
Second, think about the subject areas that you need to explore. For example, you were assigned to write a paper about anxiety disorders among students. In this case, you’ll need to look for information in such areas as medicine (psychology and psychiatry), education, and, probably, sociology.
Lastly, start your research from general databases from the list below. Then, continue with subject-specific repositories.
Also, don’t forget about your school library: sometimes the traditional approach gives the best results. Now, let’s proceed with our list of free educational databases that you can effectively use for your research.
The academic community is still undecided if Google Scholar is a database or a search engine. Most agree that it is a search engine, but it still can be effectively used for scholarly and academic research.
The reason why we put it first is the fact that it’s a very popular source of non-subject-specific academic data which makes it a good place to start at.
However, there are several problems with Google Scholar, like:
∙ it is not managed by people like other popular databases, so the search results there are not properly indexed;
∙ it only browses through the limited scope of resources, so it’s still not comprehensive enough;
∙ it’s not easy to find the full texts there.
Still, Google Scholar can be quite effective if you use it in combination with other, more subject-specific databases.
JSTOR, which stands for “Journal Storage”, is a digital library that provides access to a vast number of scholarly and academic articles and other resources on a wide range of disciplines. It’s great as a starting point for research on humanities. If you are into history, art, philosophy, sociology - start there. Or if you are in search of scholarships for students, this service helps you out to get your knowledge stronger.
What’s also great about JSTOR is that all resources there are full-text. Most of them are peer-reviewed, too. The repository also contains a limited collection of primary sources. These are usually not peer-reviewed because they pre-date the very process.
ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) is the first stop for all education-related topics. It is sponsored by the US Department of Education. This is done through its Institute of Educational Sciences and covers over 1.3 million items.
A great thing is, all items here are thoroughly verified. Thus, you can rest assured that every item you find on ERIC is credible and comes from a reliable source.
This online base is home to a wide range of source types. There are articles, conference proceedings, audiovisual resources, meeting summaries, dissertations, theses, and more.
EBSCO is probably the best place to start your research due to its massive size. This is not a single database but a huge resource hub. It is run by EBSCO Information Services, a division of EBSCO Industries, Inc. It contains information on practically any subject.
You can find various kinds of resources on EBSCO – magazines, journals, e-books. It also offers two search options. You can either browse the whole base using “Academic search complete” or limit your search to subject-specific repositories of your choice.
PubMed is your first stop if your research topic is related to medicine. It is maintained by The United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. There are over 30 million entries – citations and abstracts. However, it doesn’t contain the full texts of the articles. Instead, it provides links to other sources or to PubMed Central archive.
The information that can be retrieved through PubMed relates primarily to biomedicine and health fields. If you are into other medicine-related disciplines like chemical sciences, behavioral sciences, and more - be sure to check it out.
Modern technology has greatly facilitated the research process in any field and at any level. With the help of a wide range of free databases, any undergraduate student can find an abundance of information for any project without wasting hours in libraries.
However, it’s very important to choose storages and search engines that are reliable, well-maintained. Only there you can find credible sources. Use suggestions from our list to be sure that you don’t use anything that doesn’t fall into this category.
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