Research After Graduation: Free Resources
Graduating soon? Worried you won't have access to research databases and journals after leaving the University of Illinois? Though you may lose access to many of the research tools available through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, there are multiple resources that are publicly available for free.
This list emphasizes research in the social sciences, health, and education fields. The Additional Resources section includes links to other universities' lists with free resources for other disciplines. Not all resources listed have full-text; however, it may be possible to access full-text through interlibrary loan or a secondary resource.
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General Information | Articles | Books & Journals | General Resources | Research Reports | Government Information | Staying Informed | Citation Management Tools | Continued Library Services | Additional Resources
- Alumni can access the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library's licensed full-text databases as long as their NetID remains active. This is controlled by CITES, not by the Library. Per CITES, your account on the campus network will expire 3 months after graduation. Afterwards, licensed databases are only available if you come to campus and use a public terminal.
- If you continue to live in the Champaign-Urbana are, you can obtain a community patron card, which will allow you to check out physical materials (excluding loanable technology).
- An increasing number of journals are published as open-access web journals, and the full text is universally available. See the Articles and Books & Journals sections below for resources.
- Become a member of a local public library. Public libraries also purchase resources for their users and may have access to databases with reliable information. Also, librarians can help you locate information. Public libraries also provide a number of career services.
- Visit a state university or college. Many schools funded by the state have public access computers where you can sit and access the same resources as a student or faculty member. They will also have community membership opportunities.
Find articles and research about a specific topic.
The National Agricultural Library, as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, produces the NAL Catalog (AGRICOLA) database. This database contains records for books and articles on agriculture and its allied disciplines. This quick search guide describes how to search this collection.
- Anthropological Index Online (AIO)
The Anthropological Index Online is the anthropological index to current periodicals held in the Anthropology Library at the Centre for Anthropology, The British Museum. The AIO is published by the Royal Anthropological Institute in cooperation with the Centre for Anthropology, The British Museum.
- BioMed Central Journals
BioMed Central publishes over 230 peer-reviewed open access journals which are available to the public for free. BioMed specializes in subjects related to science, technology and medicine. Areas of interest to social science researchers include public health, substance abuse, and health care policy.
- Current Cites
Annotates articles about information technologies. It's possible to subscribe to monthly alerts, each covering up to a dozen selected articles.
ERIC has over 1 million bibliographic records of journal articles related to education. Though the University of Illinois subscribes to the fee-based ERIC, another version is also accessible for free from the U.S. government.
- Google Scholar
Google Scholar allows you to broadly search for scholarly literature. Results include articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court documents. On the Advanced Scholar Search page, it's possible to limit your search by journal, date, or subject.
JSTOR is a digital archive of more than 1,500 academic journals and other scholarly content. JSTOR Register & Read is a program offering free, read-online access to individuals who register for a MyJSTOR account. Register & Read includes approximately 75 journals.
The Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts database indexes more than 600 periodicals, plus books, research reports and proceedings. Subject coverage includes librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management, and more. Coverage in the database extends back as far as the mid-1960s.
- Making of America
Making of America is a digital library of primary sources about "American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction." Subject areas include education, psychology, American history, and sociology.
- National Criminal Justice Reference Center (NCJRS)
Contains more than 3,500 full-text publications and over 210,000 summaries of publications from the NCJRS Abstracts Database. "Established in 1972, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is a federally funded resource offering justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide."
PILOTS contains over 45,000 article citations about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental-health conditions caused by traumatic events. Produced by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and sponsored by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
Bibliographic database about population, family planning and related health issues. Includes links to free, fulltext documents and it's possible to limit a search to peer-reviewed journal articles. POPLINE is maintained by the K4Health Project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
- Public Library of Science (PLoS)
The Public Library of Science is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy group. Everything they publish is freely accessible to the public. Research ranges from biology to medicine to tropical diseases.
PubMed provides free access to MEDLINE, a database of citations and abstracts in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences. Full-text is sometimes available for free.
Focused on science and technology, identifies articles, preprints, conference papers, and more, and frequently links to open access content.
- Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a database of social science research and is composed of various specialized research networks. The SSRN eLibrary consists of two parts: an Abstract Database containing abstracts on over 384,300 scholarly working papers and forthcoming papers and an Electronic Paper Collection currently containing over 315,000 downloadable full text documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.
Note: Many public libraries also subscribe to online databases and reference materials. Both the Urbana Free Library and Champaign Public Library subscribe to Gale Virtual Reference Library. The Urbana Free Library subscribes to EBSCO Teacher Reference Center and Champaign Public Library subscribes to InfoTrac.
Find books and journals about a specific topic.
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
DOAJ is a free, full-text quality controlled directory which provides access to a variety of journals covering all disciplines. Journals are available in languages other than English. To view journals in a specific field, Browse the database.
- Google Books
As of 2010, there were over 15 million books on Google Books. Many of the books, if a book is out of copyright or the publisher has given permission to Google, are available for preview or full-text. If the book is in the public domain, a PDF copy is free to download.
- International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)
The INASP provides a directory of free and open access online resources. Coverage includes the following disciplines: agriculture, biology & life science, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering & technology, environment, humanities, information & communication technologies, mathematics & statistics, medicine & health sciences, physics, and social sciences.
- National Academies Press
The National Academies Press has more than 4,000 titles in PDF format about a variety of topics including behavioral and social sciences, education, and health and medicine. Most PDFs can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book. Even if a title lists a price, click on the title and the following page should have a "Download Free PDF" button. Print versions can be purchased.
The Online Computer Library Center supports WorldCat, a catalog 69 million bibliographic records and 1 billion individual holdings. Use WorldCat to determine citations for books, journals, videos, and music and to locate a copy near you. See the features guide for help interpreting the records.
Note: Ask your local public library about requesting books and other materials through Interlibrary Loan.
- CIA World Factbook
Unclassified since 1971, the Central Intelligence Agency's annual World Factbook provides a reliable resource for information on independent states, dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, uninhabitable regions, and oceans.
- Information Please Almanac
The online version contains all of the facts from the printed almanac, plus a dictionary and encyclopedia.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers over 200 free resources about writing, research, grammar, English as a Second Language, and professional writing.
Note: The American Library Association (ALA) has a list of the best free reference web sites.
Various organizations, nonprofits, and think tanks conduct independent research on social science, health, education, and economic topics. Many of the organizations provide reports or summaries for free.
- The Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization which conducts and disseminates independent research. Research Topics include arms control, children and families, crime, economic development, global health, k-12 education, and social issues. Some reports must be purchased.
- Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relation is an independent, membership organization, think tank, and publisher. It researches and publishes information about a variety of topics such as democracy and human rights, health, international peace and security, and society and culture.
- Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Research Center uses "impartial, fact-based public-opinion polling and other research tools to track important issues and trends." The Center's research covers multiple topics in the social sciences field including: demography, economics, immigration, politics, religion and social trends.
- The Urban Institute
The Urban Institute "gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues." Research areas include economy; education; health and healthcare; employment; immigrants; and race, ethnicity, and gender.
There is a multitude of government information readily available to the public. Additional government resources can be found on the Government Information Services and U.S. Government Tools webpages.
The go-to source for demographic information about the United States. It’s possible to browse or search for statistics by topic, geography, race and ethnic groups, or industry codes.
FedStats gathers statistics from more than 70 agencies United States Federal Government. “The Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy maintains this site to provide easy access to the full range of statistics and information.”
FedWorld Information Network
From the Department of Congress, and managed by the National Technical Information Services (NTIS), FedWorld is a gateway to government information. It is a directory of government departments and information services.
- THOMAS (Library of Congress)
Produced by the Library of Congress, Thomas offers full-text searching for bills and resolutions from 1989 to the current Congress, bill summary and status from 1973 to present, and full-text committee reports from 1995 to present. Also provides links to other government resources and information on the legislative process.
- U.S. Census Bureau
The Census Bureau should be the first stop for anyone looking for statistics on social, demographic or economic data on a national, state or local level. Information is available from a variety of sources, including the decennial censuses from 1990 to 2010, the American Community Survey, and the Economic Census.
Federal government website that provides the public with easy, one-stop access to all online U.S. Federal Government resources, including a search engine, directory by topic, and directory by department. Maintained by the General Services Administration.
Note: For additional statistics resources, see Sources of Statistics in the Social Sciences. Many of the resources on the page, including international and education statistics, are accessible for free.
Associations often release data and research about their field. Joining an association may also provide you with connections to specialists and renowned researchers.
Asian American Studies
Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
Gender & Women's Studies
Labor and Employment Relations
Library and Information Science
Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Citation Management Tools
If you created a RefWorks during your university tenure, you will have access to your personal citations and research notes after you leave Illinois. However, you may not have access to the full text of the articles. If you click on the full-text links, you will be asked for a login.
Zotero is a free citation management software plug-in for Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. The software helps you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.
Continued Library Services
Community members and visitors are welcome to use many of the University of Illinois Library resources, including library computers. Many other public universities, in Illinois and other states, also allow community members to use their technology and print materials. Check with public universities in your region to determine their policies.
Many other libraries and institutions have created lists of free databases.