The top list of academic research databases

Whether you are writing a thesis, dissertation, or research paper it is a key task to survey prior literature and research findings. Especially, you will be looking for trusted resources, most likely peer reviewed research articles. Academic research databases make it easy to locate the literature you are looking for. We have compiled the top list of trusted academic resources to help you get started with your research:

1. Scopus

Scopus is one of the two big commercial, bibliographic databases that cover scholarly literature from almost any discipline. Beside searching for research articles, Scopus also provides academic journal rankings, author profiles, and an h-index calculator.

  • Coverage: approx. 71 million items
  • References: 1.4 billion
  • Discipline: Multidisciplinary
  • Access options: Limited free preview, full access by institutional subscription only
  • Provider: Elsevier
Search interface of Scopus
Scopus: a multidisciplinary bibliographic database that covers 71+ million scholarly items

2. Web of Science

Web of Science also known as Web of Knowledge is the second big bibliographic database. Usually, academic institutions provide either access to Web of Science or Scopus on their campus network for free.

  • Coverage: approx. 100 million items
  • References: 1.4 billion
  • Discipline: Multidisciplinary
  • Access options: institutional subscription only
  • Provider: Clarivate (formerly Thomson Reuters)
Web of Science landing page
Web of Science: 100+ million scientific articles

3. PubMed

PubMed is the number one resource for anyone looking for literature in medicine or biological sciences. PubMed stores abstracts and bibliographic details of more than 30 million papers and provides full text links to the publisher sites or links to the free PDF on PubMed Central (PMC).

  • Coverage: approx. 30 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Medicine, Biological Sciences
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: NIH
Search interface of PubMed
The new PubMed labs interface: a glimpse into the future of the newly designed PubMed search interface.

4. ERIC

For education sciences, ERIC is the number one destination. ERIC stands for Education Resources Information Center, and is a database that specifically hosts education-related literature.

  • Coverage: approx. 1.3 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Education science
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: U.S. Department of Education
Search interface of ERIC academic database
ERIC: there is no better source for education-related literature

5. IEEE Xplore

IEEE Xplore is the leading academic database in the field of engineering and computer science. It's not only journal articles, but also conference papers, standards and books that can be search for.

  • Coverage: approx. 5 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Engineering
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Search interface of IEEE Xplore
IEEE Xplore: an academic database specifically for engineering and computer science

6. ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect is the gateway to the millions of academic articles published by Elsevier. 2,500 journals and more than 40,000 e-books can be searched via a single interface.

  • Coverage: approx. 16 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Multidisciplinary
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: Elsevier
Search interface of ScienceDirect
ScienceDirect: a multidisciplinary database featuring article from one of the largest academic publishers in the world

7. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

The DOAJ is very special academic database since all the articles indexed are open access and can be accessed freely of charge.

  • Coverage: approx. 4.3 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Multidisciplinary
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: DOAJ
Search interface of DOAJ database
DOAJ: Any document you find on this academic database is open access and can be accessed free of charge.

8. JSTOR

JSTOR is another great resource to find research papers. Any article published before 1924 in the United States is available for free and JSTOR also offers scholarships for independent researchers.

  • Coverage: approx. 12 million items
  • References: NA
  • Discipline: Multidisciplinary
  • Access options: free
  • Provider: ITHAKA
Search interface of JSTOR
JSTOR: 12 million scientifc articles dating back to as early as 1876.