Information literacy is a huge topic in high schools and universities, and one of the things teachers and librarians are struggling to help students understand is the fact that their search engine is not free of bias and may prioritize ads (or what it thinks you want to see based on your shopping experience) rather than actual information. It’s made more difficult by the fact that the technology in use is constantly evolving.
Google’s search algorithm has not merely gotten worse. It has been redesigned to prioritize advertisers and popular pages, often times excluding pages and content that better matches your search terms. As a writer searching for specific information for my stories, I find this unacceptable. As a proponent of availability of information so the populace can actually educate itself, this is unforgivable.
I’ve been meaning to share some general research resources for a while, but my energy got eaten by a couple of instances of burnout.
The bulk of the links in this article are databases, not search engines. This first batch are search engines, intended to replace the Google search function. I would recommend Firefox as a browser, as it is a significantly less stalkery option.
Duck Duck Go – This is my first choice search engine these days as it’s claim is that it does not collect or share your personal information. I’ve heard rumors that it skews right, but I have not seen evidence to back that up (and I’ve done identical searches with the other engines in this list), but it’s something to keep in mind.
Ecosia – A search engine out of Berlin Germany that uses ad revenue to plant trees. It supports full financial transparency and the privacy of its users.
Qwant – This search engine is operated from Paris, France with no tracking. It claims that it does not employ user tracking or personalize search results in order to avoid trapping users in a filter bubble. It uses contextual advertising
Academia – platform that shares academic research
Bielefeld Academic Search Engine – BASE is a search engine specifically for academic studies texts, and contains more than 100 million scientific documents, 70% of them are free.
Bioline – This is a library of scientific bioscience journals published in developing countries.
Education Resources Information Center – ERIC is a comprehensive, easy-to-use, searchable, internet-based bibliographic and full-text database of education research and information.
JSTOR – academic digital library providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines.
PDF Drive – This is the largest website for free download of books in PDF format, claiming over 225 million names.
Research Gate – founded to address the problems in the way science is created and shared. Connects the world of science and makes research open to all.
Research Papers in Economics – Volunteers from 102 countries have collected almost 4 million publications on economics and related science for RePEc.
Sci-Hub – research publication library – technically pirated content, but please note that the researchers do not get paid for publication, and will often send you a PDF of their research for free if you ask, it’s the publications that want to restrict access to paying readers
US Government Science Portal – Science.gov is an American state search engine on 2200+ scientific sites. More than 200 million articles are indexed.
World Cat – a search for the contents of 20 thousand worldwide libraries. Find out where the rare book you need is.
Boston Library History & Political Science – The Boston Library has a ton of history and poli sci resources. Big libraries often have things available digitally for free, even if you aren’t in the area.
Hathi Trust Digital Library – This library provides free digitized books from all over the world.
Internet Archive – This non-profit library houses millions of free digital books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
Project Gutenberg – This site provides free downloads of digital books, focusing on works with expired US copyright. Note, if you look for out-of-print books on Google, it will try to sell you books that you can actually download free from Gutenberg (I’ve tested this multiple times).
Z Library – This digital library provides ebooks for free.