A Guide to Top Academic Search Engines and Databases for Scholars

Academic search engines play a very important role in discovering academic resources, scholarly works, journal articles, etc. Below is a guide/ survey of some of the outstanding, free academic search engines. A few of them are inclusive of academic repositories and databases as well.


1.  African Journals Online

Run by a non profit organization in South Africa in partnership with a large number of African journals, it is probably the world’s largest collection of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals.

ajol has 479 journals, 8635 issues, 98503 abstracts and 93459 full texts available. One can browse, download full texts and search using title, author/s or keywords.

A very good resource for all those interested in African journals.

2.  BASE: Bielefeld Academic Search Engine

A treasure trove for the lovers of academic open source web resources. Operated by Bielefeld University Library, it is probably one of the most voluminous search engines. It has a tab based, simple and intuitive interface providing options for basic search, advanced search, browsing, search history and any help If needed. The site supports French, Spanish, Polish, German besides english and other European languages.

An excellent resource.

3.  CiNii. ci.nii.ac.jp/ja ( Japanese) and ci.nii.ac.jp/en (English)

Pronounced as sigh-knee, it is essentially a database service providing search facility regarding articles, books and journals. It has about 18 million articles out of which 4 million are available as full text. These articles have been accumulated using participating databases such as Electronic Library Service Academic Journals (National Institute of Informatics), Japan Science and Technology Agency, etc.

Information on 10 million books and journal titles held in about 1200 university libraries in Japan is also available for search. Information related to 1.5 million book authors is also available.

The website has a nice and clean interface. It provides links to database of grants-in-aid for scientific research (KAKEN), online journals archive and humanities and social sciences electronic resources (NII-REO) and Japanese Institutional Repositories Online (JAIRO).

A great site.

4.  CiteSeerX

A scientific literature digital library going through higher levels of evolution. It is focused on computer and information science with cool features such as citation context, citation statistics, full-text indexing, metadata of articles and many more.

A great resource for serious scholars and researchers in the domain of science.

5.  Google Scholar 

Probably one of the most well known and popular search engines among the masses with an extremely simple and easy to use interface. Great for beginners to intermediate level users and very useful for advanced tier users. Two thumbs up.

6.  Index Copernicus

Essentially a database for scientific journals. It has more than 2500 journals in its IC Journal Master List. The list is searchable with links to related websites.

Beyond being a database, it is a platform for promoting scientific achievements and collaboration between scientists, publishers of scientific journals and scientific entities. It provides specific sections, viz., IC Journal Master List, IC Publishers Panel, IC Publishing, IC Scientist and IC Institutions. Through these specific sections the website offers the facility to register scientific journals, become a member of a global community of scientists, help in publishing scientific journals and tools to manage and track research projects.

7.  Intute

This site is more like a directory of web links of very useful online resources along with a brief review (100-200 words) by an academic expert in the area. Although the site has not been maintained or updated since July 2011, the resources it points to are mostly updated regularly. As such Intute is still very much relevant and its resources are themselves current.


8.  Office Of Scientific And Technical Information

A real giant. Run by the U.S. Department Of Energy (DOE), this site strives to advance science and sustain technological creativity by making R&D findings available and useful to DOE researcher and the public. It is a treasure trove in true sense and merits a separate post.

The home page points to a number of rich resources such as SciTech Connect for information related to science, technology, and, engineering research, Data Explorer for non text information and DOepatents for patents resulting from DOE sponsored research besides many more valuable resources.

9.  Socolar

It is a free, one step, searchable database of open access journals hosted by China Educational Publications Import and Export Corporation. The information included is available in a multitude of languages. This site simply provides links to Open Access journals; once you click a link, you reach the respective website and your search and queries are handled by that website.

10.  Ingentaconnect

This site lets you search and browse 10,000 publications on the basis of subject, publication and publisher. Not all articles and publications are free, some require registration; others may require a subscription or a purchase.

11.  JournalSeek

Genamics JournalSeek is probably the largest database of journal information that is available freely on the web. It contains more than 100,000 titles from more than 6000 publishers, completely categorized, with information such as aims and scope, journal abbreviation, homepage link, subject category and ISSN. You can use the category browser to select the category such as Electrical and Electronic Engineering; once inside the category you can select a particular area such as Image Processing and then the journal of your choice from the list displayed. The search can also be carried out using title or ISSN. An excellent resource.

12.  SearchTeam

This is a collaborative search engine. Simple and friendly, it will let you find better results faster along with your coworkers, friends and family members. To explain the working of this collaborative search engine, FAQs, a guided tour video and a concept video are available on the home page. Essentially it is based on the idea of having a shared search space. Helpful, innovative and a pleasure to use.

13.  Microsoft Research

A search engine from Microsoft, free for the public, for academic articles and journal papers. For Microsoft it serves as a test-bed for new research ideas in the domains of data mining, data visualization, etc. For the rest of us it is a search engine to find information about researchers, papers, conferences, journals, organizations and keywords. With more than 39 million publications and above 19 million authors, it is a rich engine in the academic domain. Still in beta, not intended to be a production website, can be taken offline.

About Tarique Haider

Tarique Haider is an engineer by training, a pacifist at heart and a teacher by choice. He believes in a better tomorrow through education and technology. Connect with him on Google+