How to Find Scholarly Articles Online

When your teacher, lecturer, and internal common sense tell you that there's a lot of misinformed hogwash and misinformation online, it's not all bad news! You can find scholarly articles online with peer review and referencing up to your eyeballs. The utility and reliability of the articles is till up to your critical mind but here is how to go about finding them. This article also tries to highlight where you're more likely to get free access but there may be times when payment is required.


  1. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 1
    Turn to Google Scholar. To begin with, this is a good place to search for scholarly works. It can be found at: It may have your own country's URL ending though, so you can also simply google "Google Scholar" for the local return. This search mechanism provides you with the opportunity to search across numerous disciplines and sources. It searches journals, theses, abstracts, articles, etc.
    • Simple keyword searches may not be as beneficial in terms of returns as in the normal Google search engine. Try using the advanced search options to search for phrases, titles, authors, etc.
    • The returns in the search will be a list of citations in order of relevance (rather than chronologically as you usually get with academic article searches). When you click on one, it will give you publication information, such as the name of the journal, date of publication and the publisher. If you click on the article title, you'll get more information and possibly be taken to an abstract or the full text (meaning you can access the article free-of-charge). If the full text does not appear, you will usually get linked straight to the publisher's page or a public database if there is one.
  2. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 2
    Look at the individual websites of well known journal publishers. These will contain a lot of abstracts that can be downloaded with payment, although sometimes they are free of charge as well. Some journal publishers provide periods of time when articles are available for free in particular disciplines such as the social sciences. However, this option is likely to require payment for much of the access unless you are a student or employee of an educational institution or employee of a firm/corporation that subscribes to the relevant journals.
  3. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 3
    Visit the DOAJ. This is the Directory of Open Access Journals and it is found at: As its name suggests, it is free of charge and here you can search for quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals in a wide range of fields and languages.
  4. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 4
    Check out professional articles that have been produced by professional firms and professional societies. In the areas of law, medicine, engineering, psychology, and other professions, you can often find reputable articles offering guidance from top people in their professions. Partly marketing, partly ongoing information for continued learning for professionals, these are often freely available to anyone interested in checking them out.
    • Members of such societies or organizations and/or clients of firms and corporations may get preferential treatment concerning accessing such articles and information. Read the site's terms and conditions.
  5. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 5
    Check out universities. A number of universities are taking a very open approach to providing scholarly articles to the general public, which is an excellent initiative because the more people who have correct facts in this world, the better. You'll need to hunt around to find which universities have a more open policy on providing access to articles online.
    • Visit the university library website first to see what is on offer.
    • Some of the universities with open access policies include MIT, Stanford School of Education, Harvard (arts and sciences, law), Harvard Kennedy School, Yale (law), University of Hawaii, etc.
  6. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 6
    Look at the websites of individual academics. Many academics keep PDF or other copies of their own articles listed on their home page of the university that they're working for or affiliated with. Also, particular societies, faculties, or other bodies within universities may create special collections of articles following a theme, topic, or particular field of interest.
  7. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 7
    Look for articles on government websites and parliamentary/legislative websites. You're not just limited to your own government; you are able to visit the websites of any government whose language you can read. For the European Union, given that everything has to published in each of the languages of the parties to the Union, you will always find English copies of all their materials.
    • Check out parliaments and legislative websites - look at commissions, committees, ombudsman, auditor-general, and other websites to find a huge amount of reliable information. As well, don't forget to look for annual reports of State owned entities for figures and information you can quote to back up your research.
    • One example of a government website with peer-reviewed articles is PubMed at:
  8. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 8
    Search for United Nations organization's articles. There is a lot of academic and professional work available free-of-charge or at minimal cost available on United Nations websites. Also remember to check out the United Nations University.
    • Also look for information from other international organizations of repute.
  9. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 9
    Consider the materials produced by non-government organizations. Some of this material is top quality and written by people who are top of their field. Naturally, you'll need to be aware of the mission, purpose, and agenda of the NGO in question, but often you will find articles from NGOs on all societal, economic, cultural, environmental, and political issues that are well-referenced, well prepared and written by people whose credentials you can verify.
  10. Image titled Find Scholarly Articles Online Step 10
    Assess the article. As well as finding an article, be clued in to how to judge its merit. Some things to look for include:
    • Is it peer-reviewed? (Many journals will make this crystal clear.)
    • Has it gone through a rigorous editorial process?
    • Is it written by someone renowned in the field?
    • Can other works by this person be found, along with comments and feedback?
    • Does it have sound references to back it up?
    • Do you personally find the article plausible, accurate, and reliable with your objective critical thinking hat on?


  • If you find that an article you want requires payment, don't give up just yet. Try your local library's electronic access first to see if they subscribe to the relevant journal or to see if they can order it in for you. And if you know someone studying at university or working in a professional capacity, you might be able to ask them to kindly look up an article for you if they have access to a particular journal.
  • Search for "gateways" to free journals online.


  • Be aware that despite good intentions, maintaining free journal sites tends to fall by the wayside when the interested party leaves or gets overwhelmed by the task. Some sites come and go; just keep looking.

Things You'll Need

  • Online access, a good search engine
  • Occasional payment for articles

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Research and Review | Subjects