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Library Resources

Library Resources


Your dissertation work is built on a foundation of previous research articles and data. It’s essential that you discover, read and incorporate the work of others. 


Hundreds of library databases list millions of scholarly articles from all over the world. While many remain behind paywalls, the system of publishing (established in the 19th century) is rapidly evolving and improving. Publishers, researchers, and scholars are working together to make their research easier to find and free to access. With a bit of sleuthing, you can access the articles you need to build your study. 


Finding and Accessing Articles


  • Google ScholarThis free and popular subset of the Google search engine targets articles, reports, books, and documents considered scholarly. These include the domains of sciences, medicine, social sciences, and more. Google Scholar offers basic search by keyword, author, or title. You can specify a time range. Shows related articles, related citations, and other versions of the article. (Visit Google Scholar.)


Reference Lists in Published Articles and Dissertations

The reference lists in published dissertations and articles are a treasure trove of information. Another researcher’s citations will often list articles that interest you. Those articles themselves may include citations you want to explore. 


One of your essential competencies as a researcher is to critically evaluate the quality of other’s research before you trust it to support your own. Chose recent articles and recent citations. Always fetch and read the entire cited article yourself. Critically analyze the key elements of the sample, methodology, results, and interpretations.


  • Business and Management Databases: If you visit the online pages of larger universities, you will often find a master list of databases that are behind paywalls or require subscription-based access. Use these master database lists to identify relevant databases that might be appropriate for your work. Once you know the databases that cover your discipline and topic, access them via local public and university libraries and through interlibrary loans (ILL). 

  • Local State-Run Universities: Search the online site for your library and local university for resources available to the public. Access is a common question for anyone who is not faculty, staff, or student. Most university websites state their policies for alumni and the public clearly. Many offer suggestions pointing to other scholarly database resources. Some universities host articles from their faculty on their own web servers.


Many university libraries will give you access to their databases (under licensing agreements with e-resource vendors) if you are physically within the library. You can read, print, download articles for teaching, research, or personal use. Online access is usually limited to faculty, staff, or students.

Many university libraries have well-curated resource pages that offer suggestions for the public and their students, faculty, and alumni to access articles through interlibrary loans or via open-access sites. 

  • Public Library: Public libraries differ in their subscriptions to scholarly journal databases. If your local library doesn’t have what you need, they can often get it from other library systems via interlibrary loans (ILL). There are often limitations and costs, yet it’s a good resource to check when you need a specific article. As always, your local librarian is your affordable and knowledgeable assistant. 

  • Access to Articles Via Professional Licenses: Do you hold a professional or practitioner license in your state? Check your continuing education requirements to see if your state offers access to professional journals as part of your license. For example, the State of Washington offers affordable online access to clinical information and educational resources to licensed practitioners. (Visit

  • Author’s Website: Researchers want others to see and cite their work. Citation counts are a measure of academic chops in the competitive world of research. Search online for the author of an article you need. You’ll frequently find their webpage, workplace, lab, or university affiliation. They’ll often list publications, along with PDF downloadable files. 

  • Write to the Author Directly: You’ll likely find an authors’ contact information either in their article or on their webpage. Or you can contact the journal editor where the article was published and ask for contact information. 


When contacting the author for a copy of their article, be concise and professional. Make sure you’ve read the abstract of the article. Keep the subject line short. Explain why you are interested in the article and how you will use it. Specify exactly the article you need. Provide your email address in the body of the note. If you are writing for permission to use a questionnaire or instrument, offer to follow up with the results of your study.


Note that some authors might have signed rights agreements with journals that limit or prevent them from sharing their articles. To find out, go to Sherpa Romeo. 

  • Sherpa Romeo: Look up the publisher policies, including open access, from journals around the world. You can verify open access status, and view copyright restrictions placed on authors. Good for ensuring your own compliance if you receive an article from a questionable source (such as an internet forum) and want to uphold your ethical compass. (Visit Sherpa Romeo.)

  • Deepdyve: Deepdyve is an article rental service. Like NetFlix, you rent articles to view in your browser for a short time. You can’t keep them or download rented articles. You do have purchasing options that vary by the publisher. (Visit Deepdyve.)

Finding and Accessing

Open Access

Specific Resources to Discover and Obtain Open Access Articles


Open Access Button: Enter an article title, citation, DOI, URL, PMC, or Pubmed ID. Open Access will search repositories worldwide, open access journals, and author’s personal pages. They’ll tell you where to find it and/or assist you in asking the author to make it available. (Visit Open Access Button.)


Unpaywall: Unpaywall is a Chrome extension browser plug-in that captures open access scholarly content from over 50 thousand sources. Where a normal search might take you to a paywall, this extension will tell you if and where the article is available for free. Good FAQ and support options on the site. Free and Legal. (Visit Unpaywall.)


Worldcat: WorldCat is the largest searchable online library catalog in the world. WorldCat allows you to search for an article, journal, book, music, video, etc. in your local zipcode or in any library around the world. Use WorldCat when you know the book or journal, but don’t know where to find it. (Visit Worldcat.)


Preprint Servers


Preprint servers are repositories for finished articles by researchers that have not yet been peer-reviewed or submitted to traditional journals. This form of article sharing has expanded in the past fear years as traditional publishing models, paywalls and subscription prices have locked many researchers out. Preprint servers host manuscripts that are complete but as yet unpublished. 


Preprint servers vary in their content and submission requirements. For example, MedRxiv covers medical, clinical, and health sciences research articles, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews. It allows no case reports, opinions, editorials, term papers, etc. No hypotheses without data. Extensive submission guidelines.


Many preprint servers are field-specific and finding articles can be challenging if your research is cross-discipline. Business and management topics, for example, can be widespread and complex with many overlapping categories depending on the study. It’s helpful to identify specific subcategories relevant to your topic in order to effectively search for the information you need. Also, search for lists of preprint servers that might cover your topic area. 


Carefully vet the articles on these preprint servers and the servers themselves. Look for a solid advisory board, extensive affiliates, and screeners. All should be scientists or scientific organizations.


Here is a short list of popular preprint servers: 


  • AgriXiv – Agricultural sciences

  • BioRxiv – Biology

  • ArXiv – Math, physics, and computer science

  • Chemrxiv – Chemistry 

  • EarthArXiv – Earth science

  • EngrXiv – Engineering

  • LawArXiv – Law

  • medRxiv – Medical, clinical, and health sciences research

  • NutriXiv – Nutritional sciences

  • MarXiv – Ocean and marine-climate sciences

  • PsyArXiv – Psychological sciences

  • PaleoarXiv – Paleontology

  • SportaRxiv – Sport and exercise science

  • TechRxiv – Technology research


  • ERIC: ERIC stands for Education Resources Information Center. It's free to the public and supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. ERIC is a database and a document collection repository. It has over 250 journals focused on education. Offers keyword, subject searches, and a helpful thesaurus search to find terms similar to your primary search term. (Visit

  • DOAJ: Online directory of open access, peer-reviewed journals from around the world. Funded via donations and curated by the community. Supports the highest standards and best practices among open-access publishers. (Visit

  • Open Access Theses and Dissertations (OATD): Open access to available theses and dissertations from around the world. Free to search, find, and use. Will connect you to the school or site via the download button. (Visit OATD.)

  • Open Access Journals: Based in London, England, this site is a forum and platform to rapidly share scientific research via open-access journals. Supports students, teachers, researchers, and scientists. Provides unrestricted access to manuscripts in science and technology. Browse through their journals. Search within the journal by relevant topics. All free. (Visit Openaccessjournals.)

  • NCBI/PMC: If your topic overlaps with public health, medicine, or medical technology, consider searching the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database and its subset PubMed Central®. There are many business-related articles in the database. (Visit NCBI.)(Visit NCBI/PMC.)

Open Access

You didn't come this far to only come this far. 

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