Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
WJC Logo

Student Guide to Collections & Services

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches the internet for articles, books, reviews, and other publications. Not all publications are indexed in Google Scholar and not all results are scholarly or peer-reviewed. We recommend you use Google Scholar as a supplemental a tool to help with your research. 

Did you know that you can find full-text articles available through William James College Library's subscriptions on Google Scholar? It takes just a minute to set up!

Watch this short video to learn how to connect Google Scholar to WJC Library! 


Click here to view a step-by-step, illustrated tutorial 


Did you finally find the perfect article to help with your research only to see that the publisher wants you to pay to access the full-text?Unpaywall is a browser extension that searches the internet for free and legal versions of research papers.  Simply download and install the extension on your Chrome or Firefox browser. Visit Unpaywall's website to see how it works and to download your own copy.

Unpaywall: "Read paywalled research papers for free."



Still can't find a free copy? Use the library's free interlibrary loan service and we will do our best to get you a copy of the item quickly. 

Open Access

The Budapest Open Access Initiative defines open access as meaning "...its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

While open access is an exciting and growing initiative, it is still important to evaluate the resource and ensure it is from a reputable source. Grand Valley State University Libraries developed a list of Open Access Journal Quality Indicators to help navigate the world of open access publishing.

Open Access Journal Quality Indicators

Open access journals make articles freely available on the Internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text. Benefits of publishing in an open access venue may include:

  • Increased visibility, usage, and impact of your research
  • More efficient dissemination compared with traditional publishing models
  • Retention of some or all of your copyrights
  • Contribution to societal good by providing scholarly content to a global audience
  • Rigor of traditional peer-review before publication
  • Ongoing feedback through social media

The open access landscape is complex. There are thousands of peer-reviewed open access journals, with new titles emerging rapidly using a variety of models. While there are many high-quality, peer-reviewed open access publications, there are also journals/publishers that engage in unprofessional or unethical practices. The following guidelines are intended to help you evaluate open access publications as you consider appropriate publication venues, or invitations to serve as reviewers or editors.

Note that there is no single criterion that indicates whether or not a publication is reputable. Rather, look for a cumulative effect of more positives or more negatives. 

Positive Indicators

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
  • Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
  • Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)
  • Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
  • Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Journal is included in subject databases and/or indexes

Negative Indicators

  • Journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
  • Publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s web site
  • Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
  • Instructions to authors information is not available
  • Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
  • Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
  • No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
  • Repeat lead authors in same issue
  • Publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)

Open Access Publishing Models

  • Open access journal: All journal content is available for researchers to read, print, download, distribute, or link to without fees.
  • Hybrid journal: Some content is open access, typically via publication or author fees.
  • Embargoed open access: Also called delayed open access. This is a subscription model that provides open access to content after an embargo period expires. For example, the most current content may only be available to subscribers, while the archived issues are open access.


Open Access Resources

Journals and Peer-Reviewed Papers
PLoS (Public Library of Science) 
"More than 100,000 authors from over 190 countries, including 61 Nobel Laureates, have published with PLOS. Authors who seek highly respected, peer-reviewed journals that reach the widest possible audience choose to publish with PLOS."

SSRN (Social Science Research Network) 
"SSRN´s eLibrary provides 740,146 research papers from 343,012 researchers across 30 disciplines."

NIH (National Institutes of Health) and PubMed
Authors of research papers funded by the NIH are required to post their papers to PubMed Central no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. These articles are freely accessible online at PubMed.

BioMed Central
"BMC has an evolving portfolio of some 300 peer-reviewed journals, sharing discoveries from research communities in science, technology, engineering and medicine."

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
"DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals."

​Hathi Trust
"HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world."

DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books)
"8027 Academic peer-reviewed books and chapters from 212 publishers."

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data
"The mission of the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) is to facilitate research in criminal justice and criminology, through the preservation, enhancement, and sharing of computerized data resources; through the production of original research based on archived data; and through specialized training workshops in quantitative analysis of crime and justice data."

Health and Medical Care Archive
"The data collections in HMCA include surveys of health care professionals and organizations, investigations of access to medical care, surveys on substance abuse, and evaluations of innovative programs for the delivery of health care."

Harvard Dataverse
Open repository for data from multiple disciplines. You can search tens of thousands of datasets or upload your own.

Dryad is a nonprofit repository for data underlying the international scientific and medical literature.