Free scholarly resources

Library lending desk

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, namely journals, books, data and indices, and repositories and other resources:

Scholarly databases and search engines

    • Scilit is a multidisciplinary, free scholarly database that indexes scientific material by extracting the latest data from CrossRef, PubMed and other sources on a daily basis. A good alternative for non-EUR students and scholars and others unable to access subscription-resources. Includes pre-prints.
    • 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.
    • is the free scholarly database that indexes a large number of Open Access journals, mainly from Latin America but also from Portugal, South Africa, and Spain. Mostly covers articles in Portuguese and Spanish, but also some in English. The same organization also has a database for books and pre-prints.

Open Access journals

    • 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. There is also an option to show all the (free) Open Access journals that are part of AJOL.
    • Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL) is a database of journals published in Bangladesh, covering the full range of academic disciplines. All the material on BanglaJOL is free to view, search and browse, however copyright of all content is retained by the journals or authors.
    • 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.
    • JSTOR offers a growing collection of Open Access content. This includes many Open Access Journals. In addition, free early journal content is available, that is journal content in JSTOR published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere.
    • Nepal Journals Online (NepJOL) is a database of journals published in Nepal, covering the full range of academic disciplines.  All the material on NepJOL is free to view, search and browse, however copyright of all content is retained by the journals or authors.
    • 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 Access books

    • Bloomsbury Open Access offers selected books in the humanities and social sciences which are published on under Creative Commons and Bloomsbury Open licenses. Subject areas include: anthropology, politics & international relations, sociology, film & media, law, and research methods & study skills.
    • 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.
    • JSTOR offers a growing collection of Open Access content. This includes many Open Access Books. 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. 
    • The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada has made available some 1200-plus free e-books from the last 25 years. Topics include: Development, Economics, Environment, Evaluation, Food and Agriculture, Gender, Governance, Health, Information and Communication, Natural resources, Science and Technology, Social Policy. More publications from the 1970s - 1990s are available through the IDRC Digital Library.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Free scholarly data and indices

    • Indices of Social Development is an innovative World Bank/ISS database, brings together 184 indicators, synthesising them into a usable set of measures to track how different societies perform along six dimensions of social development.
    • 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.
    • 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).

Repositories and other free scholarly resources

    • 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).
    • 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!
    • IDS OpenDocs is a digital library with full-text copies of developing country research curated by the Institute of Development Studies- IDS (Brighton, UK). These publications have been made available online to a global audience through partnership agreements between IDS and research institutes in Africa and Asia. Full text access is provided under a Creative Commons licence. You can browse by research institutes, authors, titles and subjects.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

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