These days, when you’re asking your students to do research (on just about any topic), it is likely going to be online research, at least at the start. Most materials are easily available online these days, saving students the time and hassle of heading to the library to schlep home with 100 heavy books in tow for a lit review or project. However you slice it, student research has changed quite drastically even in recent years, as more and more resources are online.
That said, many things are not available to students for free – unless their school has an account on the site in question or a subscription to the journal you need. This is especially true in STEM disciplines, where most ‘big’ research studies are not available in full text for free until around 12 months after the date of publishing. So if you want the latest and greatest research, you’ll have to pay for it – which isn’t feasible or reasonable in many cases.
There are a number of journals making a move to offer full text of scientific journal articles for free, and we’ve put together a short list of them below.
PLOS stands for the Public Library of Science. They’re a non-profit aimed at creating a library of open-access journals and other scientific literature. Lots of awesome research can be found with a quick search at PLOS.
PNAS (spell it, don’t say it!) is the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (of the US). Not all of the content on the site is available for free, but there sure is a substantial portion that you don’t need to pay for. See what parts of the site are available to non-subscribers here.
eLife is trying to approach science publishing with a fresh look. While still peer-reviewed, their process is a little bit different than for other scientific journals. They’ve chosen to make their journal open-access as a part of their initiative to make science publishing more effectively benefit science and scientists.
HighWire is an ePublishing platform for scientific research from Stanford University. They offer a huge list of free online full text articles on their site. Of note, their list is limited to journals published online with the assistance of HighWire Press, but they still have a TON of content available for your perusal. As of this writing, they were assisting with the online publication of 2,353,407 free full-text articles and 7,133,903 total articles. There are 40 sites with free trial periods, and 104 completely free sites. 276 sites have free back issues, and 1359 sites have pay per view.