Of course, it is inevitable that you will also want to use the web and search engines such as Google to complement your academic research but if you do you need to be aware that anyone can place information online and therefore you need to exercise caution when deciding which resources and websites that you might choose to use.
There are also what’s known as Open Access Resources available online and you may find some of these very useful to bear in mind as alternative sources of information. Why is this different to any other information that you might find online? It’s different because these resources are also high quality resources that libraries have often had to pay for, except they are being made freely available for people to access because a publisher or institution has chosen to do so. So, what are the best and how do you recognise them?
One of the best open access sites for accessing journals is the Directory of Open Access Journals. This directory contains freely available journals but will only index journals that are either peer-reviewed or have some other editorial quality control in place. All the journals are freely available and, at the last check, has 8023 journals available to search.
It’s not only e-journals that available through open access, e-books are also available in this way too. There is a Directory of Open Access Books which if you browse, you will see contains books across all disciplines. Although not strictly open access, two of the best sites for freely available e-books are Project Gutenberg and the Online books page although these are by no means the only sites available.
Finally, a quick word about open access repositories. These repositories house research outputs from various institutions that can be accessed for free by those who search them. There are literally hundreds of repositories out there and a quick Google search for “online repositories” will show you how many there are. However, we would like to draw your attention to White Rose Research Online. This is the repository for the White Rose Consortium of the Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield. Researchers at these institutions are encouraged to deposit copies of their work in this repository which means that you can search the repository and potentially get access to information you would not be able to find other wise.
Want another perspective? Here's a nice video from PhD Comics, all about Open Access: