Free scholarly resources

For librarians

Are you a librarian and would you like to offer your users access to scholarly information? For libraries in developing countries there are special programmes that offer free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online.

For individuals

Are you a student, researcher or practitioner with limited or no access to fee-based information resources? The ISS library staff has selected some resources with free access to scholarly publications.

Free scholarly resources

  • African Journals Online (AJOL) is a collection of over 380 peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals. AJOL provides access to citations, and where available to abstracts and/or full-text. The LIST ALL view shows all the (free) Open Access journals that are part of AJOL.

  • Bloomsbury Open offers selected research publications in the humanities and social sciences which are published on open content licenses (Creative Commons and Bloomsbury Open license). Subject areas include: anthropology, politics, international development and sociology, film and media studies, law. There are several collections: Bloomsbury Open Archive 2008-2012Bloomsbury Open 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

  • Directory of Open Access Books - DOAB covers free, full text, peer reviewed books published under an Open Access license. Books can be searched (simple or advanced search) or browsed by title, subject or publisher.

  • Directory of Open Access Journals - DOAJ covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. They cover all subjects and languages. There are over 6000 free, full-text available journals in the directory.

  • The FAO Corporate Document Repository houses FAO documents and publications, as well as selected non-FAO publications, in electronic format. It includes publications dealing with food, food security, agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, and rural development. Documents and publications will usually be available full-text in at least one of the FAO's official languages. Documents as far back as the 1950s are included irregularly. (Updated daily).

  • Google Scholar provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. However, not all content found in Scholar is free. When you find a non-free article, click the All x versions option, you might find free pre-published versions of the article.

  • Highwire Press (Stanford University) facilitates access to 1.9 million full text articles mainly in the (bio)medical sciences. Most journals provide free access to back issues older than 12-24 months. Some journals also provide access to current issues.

  • IDEAS is a large bibliographic database dedicated to economics and finance research available freely on the Internet. Over 1.000.000 items of research can be browsed or searched, and over 900.000 can be downloaded in full text!

  • Publications from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada. Topics include: Development, Economics, Environment, Evaluation, Food and Agriculture, Health, Information and Communication, Natural resources, Science and Technology, Social Policy. Most publications can be read online or downloaded.

  • Companion website to the book International Development: Ideas, Experience and Prospects (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014). The book covers 50 years on international development and is a contribution to the post 2015 Development Goals global discussions. The companion site is meant to ensure that development students and practitioners have free access to the book and can participate in the discussions and debates.
    See the site for more info:

  • Indices of Social Development is an innovative World Bank/ISS database, which will open new areas of research on social development, comparing various dimensions within countries, and their impact on other aspects of development.

  • JSTOR has a new programme to make Open Access monographs available on the JSTOR platform. The ebooks are freely available for anyone in the world to use. Each ebook carries one of six Creative Commons licenses determined by the publisher. The titles are easy to use, with no DRM restrictions and no limits on chapter PDF downloads or printing. Please view the title list here.

  • National Academies Press offers hundreds of books which can be downloaded as pdf for free by the chapter or the entire book. Topics include: Agriculture, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Conflict and Security Issues, Education, Energy, Environmental Studies, Food & Nutrition, Industry and Labor.

  • OAIster is a catalogue of millions of online records harvested from free collections worldwide. The collection contains institutional repositories with scholarly publications from universities all over the world.

  • OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable Open Access publication model for academic books in the humanities and social sciences.

  • OpenDOAR - Directory of Open Access Repositories is a directory of academic open access repositories worldwide. You can browse by country and region or do a simple search by repository name. You can also use the Advanced Search option.

  • PubMed Central is a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. The full text of all PubMed Central articles is available for free.

  • Open Research Online is the UK Open University's repository of research publications and other research outputs. It is an Open Access resource that can be searched and browsed freely by members of the public.

  • UNdata provides free data access to UN statistical databases through a single entry point. Users can search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system. Useful features include Country Profiles, Advanced Search and Glossaries. The numerous databases, tables and glossaries containing over 60 million data points cover a wide range of themes including Agriculture, Crime, Education, Employment, Energy, Environment, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Development, Industry, Information and Communication Technology, National Accounts, Population, Refugees, Tourism, Trade, as well as the Millennium Development Goals indicators.

  • WorldCat is a global network of library content consisting of books, articles, online resources and more. However, a lot of books and articles you find in WorldCat are not free or available near you. You can consult your local library to see if they have access to the materials you find in WorldCat. OAIster is also in WorldCat. In the search results from WorldCat, the "Internet Resources" often come from OAIster.

  • The World Bank's Open Data Initiative is providing free access to its comprehensive set of data on living standards around the globe - some 2,000 indicators, including hundreds that go back 50 years. Databases include: World Development Indicators (WDI), Global Development Finance (GDF) and African Development Indicators (ADI).

  • World Bank Open Knowledge Repository - OKR is the World Bank’s official open access repository. OKR includes WB books, WDRs, PRWPs, ESW studies, journal articles from the World Bank Economic Review and World Bank Research Observer, WB annual reports. Check here for the content.

  • World Digital Library makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures from around the world on one site, in a variety of ways. These cultural treasures include manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.