Free Online Reference and Research Journals: The Quest for Online Research Sites and Databases

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As online learners, it is sometimes difficult to find good research material and references when working on a project, thesis, dissertation, or even on something as a short research paper. Here you will find some great online research sites that suit all types of online learners’ needs, including finding free and educational online references and research journals.


This is a great 24/7 online library that offers a resource for online book and journal collections, as well as magazine and newspaper articles. It also has several online tools for note-taking, advanced searching, and writing tools. Here are some details on what you can get and do using Questia:

  • Over 72,000 full-text books
  • Over 2 million journal, magazine, and newspaper articles
  • Quality, reputable materials
  • Advanced search options including word, phrase, title, author, subject, or even the specific page of a text.
  • Research tools such as highlighting, bookmarking, writing notes in the margins of the actual books, and hyperlinking in the text to link resources for faster research results.
  • Writing Tools that you can use to write footnotes and bibliographies
  • Great customer service and support
  • 24/ hours a day, 7 days a week around the clock access
  • Create personalized project folders to come back to
  • General reference collection of an encyclopedia, dictionary, and thesaurus

Here are some of the topics you could research using Questia (there are over 6,000):

  • Art and Architecture
  • Communication
  • Education
  • History
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Science and Technology

and many more…

The only draw back of using Questia, is that some of these features and collections require a subscription which I feel is very reasonable. The cost is $9.95 per collection or $19.95 per month for total library and research access. There are, however, many free books and journal articles in full text for your convenience as well. This a number one rated online research database with many college students.

For more information on this online research database, visit Questia’s website.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

ERIC is an online research database for educational research and information. ERIC provides a collection of over 1.2 million peer-reviewed journals, books, newspapers, conference papers, policy papers, education documents, and other educational-related materials.

Journal records contain information such as author, title, date, journal citation, publisher, abstract, and sometimes you can even read the full-text in PDF format. More journal articles are becoming available in full view for free via this website as they are working with publishers to make these articles available to you via The Internet.

If a journal article is not available in full-text, ERIC will provide you with a list of libraries that may have this article and will also provide you the publisher information and website to find it as well.

ERIC offers other great features as well such as:

  • Basic and advanced searches
  • A thesaurus
  • MyERIC allows you to keep track of your searches, manages your citations, and even permits you to submit your own reference articles as well. This feature requires you to set up a username and password that is of no cost to you.

This is particularly a great online research database for teachers, administrators, professors, parents, education researchers, and of course students.

For more information and to do your own research, click on Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).

Internet Public Library (IPL)

The IPL is an Internet library originally created by college students at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, which was intended for the purpose of a research laboratory for practicing librarians. This website is student-run and is updated frequently by students at the University of Michigan and other colleges that partners in this program project.

This online research database/library is organized by subject area and offers a variety of links over the World Wide Web that pertain to the criteria or subject you are researching on. There are over 45,000 collections of links that will provide a student with organizations, places, libraries, etc., over the Internet to search for more materials and/or information. There are several special link collections such as:

  • Subject Collections-Links organized by subject area using headers to categorize
  • Newspaper Collections-Links to newspapers from all over the world
  • Teen Space Collections-Links to various teen learning and entertainment websites
  • POTUS Collections-Links to websites on information about the Presidents of the United States
  • Exhibit Collections-Links to view online exhibits of pictures, sounds, etc.

The IPL offers 24/7 free online assistance by trained student librarians and professional librarian volunteers.

For more information, visit the IPL website by clicking here.

There are other search options on the Internet of course, including the use of the popular search engines such as Google.

These are just some of the online research sites and databases that can assist you in looking for the right information necessary to accomplish an academic assignment from home as an online student. By utilizing the free online references and research journals as suggested, you will be on your way to writing great papers!

This post is part of the series: How and Where to Find Academic Resources Online

Online students need resources! Here are some of the places to find and use academic resources online.

  1. Online Research Sites and Databases that Offer Free Online References and Research Journals