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Research Help

This guide is a tutorial covering the basics of the academic research process.

Open Access Databases


In addition to the databases that the library subscribes to, there are research databases with journals and articles openly and freely available on the web. FSCJ's Databases A-Z list includes a few open access databases in its search like ERIC and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). But there are even more databases available such as, PubMed, arXiv, BASE, PLoS, Project Gutenberg, and more!

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)

Open educational resources (OERs) are resources that are part of the public domain, or have been released under a license that permits free use. ‚Äč

OERs include learning content such as videos, audio clips, images, lecture notes, reading lists, course assignments, syllabi and lesson plans, textbooks, reports, articles, data, instructional games, tests and quizzes, etc.

A broader definition of OER encompasses software tools such as open-source software (course management systems, video and web page editing systems, open operating systems, etc.), as well as implementation resources such as intellectual-property licenses, best-practices documents, and interoperability standards and guidelines. 

Many of the resources provided in your classroom - readings, videos, e-books - are OERs. However, you may run across OERs while doing research on the web. Some common OER repositories are OER Commons, OpenStax, MERLOT, Lumen Learning, Open Course Library, Boundless, and Saylor Academy.

If you wish to use any of these materials in your research, you should use the same evaluation methods described in this tutorial. Note that anything that is linked or embedded into your classroom has already been vetted and evaluated.

For more information about OERs, check out our guide on the topic: 




Besides the library resources, trade journals, and Google Scholar, the free web is also a good place to start your research. The web can provide plenty of material on joint ventures, franchises, people profiles, and basic starter information.  You'll often find government information on the web. The web gives you quick access to all kinds of information in different formats, including image, video, and audio. 

You should use the same criteria for evaluating websites that you use for any source you are planning to use for research. Review our SIFT guide, or go to the next step in this tutorial for Evaluating Sources. Also be sure to check for copyright and other restrictions on the use of the material.

When searching the web, it is possible to use more of a "natural language" type of search. For example:

Google results for 'how is social media used in the online classroom'

Google uses a different searching algorithm than the library databases. It returns results based on your preferences, and how you have searched Google in the past. So your search results list may appear different than someone else's. Therefore, it is important to look past the first page of results.

To more "fine tune" your results in Google, go to the Google Advanced Search page, where you can perform a Boolean-like search. Try this on your own, and see the difference in the results list!