Here at Touro, like most colleges and universities, our students and faculty rely on peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles to conduct their research. Touro Library subscribes to a large number of scholarly journals which can be accessed through our many databases. We think we’ve got things pretty well covered, but still, we are working on expanding our reach and offering the best access to peer-reviewed scholarly literature we possibly can. One area we are looking for this is in Open Access (OA). OA refers to material that is published online, for free, without most copyright and licensing restrictions. Much of it is published under a Creative Commons license. It is important to note that OA material is published with the full consent of the copyright holder, not pirated in any way. Scholarly journal publishing has never been a money-making endeavor for the writers so they are not giving up any kind of financial benefits by publishing OA. For more information on the various business models used by OA journals, and anything else you might want to know about OA, see Peter Suber’s excellent Open Access Overview.
OA is great news for many of us: students, authors and librarians alike. OA increases the visibility of academic literature. This allows for greater readership and impact, making material more likely to be cited by other authors. This is attractive to authors as well as publishers. The great thing about OA from the reader and librarians’ side of things, is that it removes barriers between readers and information, in this case cost barriers, as OA articles are available freely online wherever there is an internet connection. This simply gives our readers more access to high-quality research material. Great!
So how do I find it? Aside from Google Scholar and journal publishers’ own websites, OA scholarly literature is found mainly in free online repositories, of which there are generally two types: institutional repositories which host and make available all research published by that institution (usually a college or university) like our very own Touro Scholar, and subject repositories which collect and host articles in a particular discipline, like arXiv for math and physics, Semantic Scholar for computer science, or EconPapers for economics.
Here are a few repositories (which could also accurately be called databases or search engines) that we’ve found to be great resources for scholarly literature. They are all examples of subject repositories, containing material from a multitude of different sources, not a single institution. They are also multidisciplinary in scope, not restricting content to a single subject or discipline. Give them a try and let us know what you think!
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) includes over 100 million documents! It is one of the most voluminous and comprehensive databases for OA material available. Consistently uses the most metadata of any OA database we’ve come across, making it very easy to parse the search results and evaluate them at a glance. Like a big commercial database, and unlike some other OA databases, BASE provides subject terms, publication information, and abstracts for pretty much all items. This information is visible from the search results page, without having to click to open up a record.
The Directory of Open Access Repositories is, as the name suggests, a comprehensive index of subject and institutional repositories. The user can search or browse for a repository or search the contents of all repositories at once. There are currently over 3,300 repositories in openDOAR.
JURN is a very voluminous and easy to use search engine that covers nearly all subject areas including a better representation of Arts/Humanities journals than many other databases. This page allows you to browse the journals contained in JURN by subject area. Helpfully, they are broken down into many detailed subject areas, making browsing journal titles very easy.
OAIster is OCLC’s search engine for OA material. It looks and functions just like OCLC’s WorldCat, so those of us who are familiar with WorldCat will need no introduction or tips to use this database. If you haven’t searched in WorldCat before, just take a little time to play around with OAIster and you will easily get the hang of it. Tip: to access the full text of any item, look for the “view online”.
Find all of these Open Access resources, plus more, under the Open Access subject heading on Touro Library’s Database List.
Contributed by: Kirk Snyder, Librarian, Midwood