How tiresome is to look for legit sites!
This week I had to make a presentation for one of my courses at the university. I am paying attention to the sites from which I take the information and the sources that are cited too. It happens quite often that some cited phrases or chapters are misunderstood, or poorly cited. Looking for sites, especially when you don’t have a broad topic, can be exhausting.
However, I discovered some sites, and I thought it might be a good thing to share them with you in case you run out of ideas where to look for. I will also provide a description of every site, and what you should be paying attention to.
Keep in mind that these sites are for you to see if the study, the journal or the book you are referring to is actually academically approved. I would not dive into how to get material for free (although most of the sites will offer that too).
The order is random, mostly how I accessed them.
JSTOR is part of the ITHAKA group, a non-profit organization that helps people by making academic content freer or cheaper. On JSTOR you can find various journals, periodicals or books that are approved or made by different scholars. You can find information on a variety of subjects such as biology, mathematics, marketing, different languages or social studies.
As an independent researcher, you have 100 free readings per month, and some papers can even be downloaded. Moreover, if you log in through your school library, you have access to more papers, hence more resources for your studies!
Of course, should you want unlimited access, you can pay a subscription ($19.50/month) or a fee depending on the article.
ResearchGate is a social platform which brings professional scientist and researchers together. There you can have thoughtful conversations, or share your research with other people! You can either join as a researcher, academic or a normal citizen.
Or you may just download papers without making an account. However, the members have to grant you access (because that is how they set the requirements for the paper, and so an account comes in handy).
I think the range of subjects seems bigger on ResearchGate than on JSTOR due to the various discussions and tags. I think the main topics revolve around science.
Unlike JSTOR, every paper that I downloaded from ResearchGate was free. But I recommend paying attention to the work cited list (or bibliography) to see how well documented the study is.
Academia.edu is a platform for academic research. The users are mainly academics, professionals and students, and they can only share their papers with the world. It has a wide range of subjects, and most of the files are available for free. The content is peer reviewed.
They have a service called Academia Premium where you can use various tools to see your reach (mentions, grants, how many readers you have) or to download certain papers or do advanced research. It is somewhere around $4-10/month, depending on your subscription type.
What I find to be a drawback on this site is that you cannot see all the papers that may contain what you are looking for. On JSTOR, you can see all the papers (name, publisher, DOI, author) although you do not have access to read it. On Academia.edu, you can only download and read what you have access to. Sometimes I get 0 results on basic search, but x amount of papers should I have Academia Premium.
Other than that, there was a good deal of useful information on topics I looked for.
Perhaps the most underrated service that Google has. Technically, it is not a site but a tool to help you find relevant material for your research. However, I think it is a good way to verify your content, so I will put it right here.
What I like about Google Scholar is that you have access to a large database of books, journals or articles, and it directs you to the source (either free or not) in seconds. The ranking system is from the most reliable one to the less reliable one. It gives you papers, but also a lot of citations.
Citations may seem useless without the paper, but you might use them to look for the actual books! (as a citation includes the author and the title of the book). According to some people, the more citations are from a book, the larger the authority of the book in the field is. So it might be a good indicator of a good paper too!
Going back to the books, it can also direct you to fragments from books available on Google Books. Let’s be honest, sometimes you do not need the whole book, but only some pages.
Unlike the others, it is not a site or tool specifically directed to academic research. Here you can find books, films, interviews, journals and whatever was available on the internet! It is a cool site to look for information, and it is user-friendly (having a category for persons with disabilities).
Their book section consists of books from various domains (the ones <1926 are free to download or look at), and the others are books to be borrowed or free to access. If you borrow a book it means you have a limited amount of time to use it (but you can re-borrow it).
Why do I find it reliable? Most of the books that are relevant to academic research (let’s say a book on dramaturgy or Robin Crusoe) are digitalized from the library of a University, in agreement with the University. So you have a book checked by a University, how more trustworthy can it get?
This is my list of sites that I consider relevant not only for academic research but also if you want to explore other stuff too. I hope that I shed some light if you knew any of these sites. If you ran out of ideas where to look, I hope my list will help you find what you are looking for!
Check out this post for other awesome tricks!