20 Useful Specialty Search Engines for College Students

You might use ordinary search engines for business or personal use, but they’re not very useful to find academic research papers, scholarly articles nor primary sources. The following 20 useful specialty search engines can help to find those resources quickly so you can complete your project faster. From simple searches to libraries and on to archives, the following links are listed alphabetically within categories.

Search Engines

  1. Search EngineAcademic Index: Use this simple search engine to find topics in other search engines such as Infotopia, Infomine, Bielefeld Search Engine, Open Doar and Chabot College. Extend your search to encompass even more search engines previoiusly selected by librarians, teachers and library and educational consortia. This academic search engine was created by and is maintained by Dr. Michael Bell, former chair, Texas Association of School Librarians. He also created and maintains Infotopia.
  2. BASE: Bielefeld Academic Search Engine is one of the world’s most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources. BASE is operated by Bielefeld University Library.
  3. CiteSeerx: This is a scientific literature digital library and search engine that focuses primarily on the literature in computer and information science. CiteSeer was the first digital library and search engine to provide automated citation indexing and citation linking using the method of autonomous citation indexing.
  4. Google Scholar Beta: From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.
  5. InfoMine: Search this virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. Librarians from the University of California, Wake Forest University, California State University, the University of Detroit – Mercy, and other universities and colleges have contributed to building InfoMine. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.
  6. ipl2: In January 2010, the website “ipl2: information you can trust” was launched, merging the collections of resources from the Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) websites. The site is hosted by Drexel University’s College of Information Science & Technology, and a consortium of colleges and universities with programs in information science are involved in developing and maintaining the ipl2.
  7. iSeek: This is a targeted search engine that compiles hundreds of thousands of authoritative resources from university, government, and established noncommercial providers. It provides time-saving intelligent search and a personal Web-based library to help you locate the most relevant results immediately and find them quickly later.
  8. refSeek: Currently in public beta, RefSeek is a web search engine for students and researchers that aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. RefSeek searches more than one billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers.
  9. Vadlo: This search engine holds the keys to everything scientific, including information about ELISA and other immunoassays, biomarkers, drug discovery and biotech high-throughput screening bioassays, clinical trials and R&D, RNA interference, microRNA, miRNA, shRNA, siRNA oligoneucleotide, real time multiplex PCR primers and more…

Web, Library and Literary Tools

  1. Library BooksDigital Library of the Commons: The Digital Library of the Commons (DLC) is a gateway to the international literature on the commons. The DLC provides free and open access to full-text articles, papers, and dissertations. This site contains an author-submission portal, an image database, the comprehensive bibliography of the Commons; a keyword thesaurus and links to relevant reference sources on the study of the Commons.
  2. Directory of Open Access Journals: This service covers free, full-text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. They aim to cover all subjects and languages through over 6313 journals in the directory. Currently 2746 journals are searchable at article level. Over 538958 articles are included in the DOAJ service at this writing.
  3. ERIC: The Education Resources Information Center is an online digital library of education research and information. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. ERIC provides ready access to education literature to support the use of educational research and information to improve practice in learning, teaching, educational decision-making, and research.
  4. Intute: Intute is a free online service that helps you to find web resources for your studies and research. In July 2010, their funding was significantly reduced. They have funding to maintain their resource catalog until the end of July 2011, and the Virtual Training Suite and Informs will be investigating moving to a membership model.
  5. Open Library: To date, this group has gathered over 20 million records from a variety of large catalogs as well as single contributions, with more on the way. Open Library is an open project: the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and they welcome your contributions.
  6. The Literary Encyclopedia: The Literary Encyclopedia is an authoritative collection of specially commissioned articles written by scholars expert in their fields. It addresses literary works, writers, cultural movements and historical events around the world. Its interactive features enable the user to place literature within its historical context in innovative ways.
  7. WorldCat: This search tool lets you browse the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world for popular books, music CDs and videos. You can also discover many new kinds of digital content, such as downloadable audiobooks. WorldCat.org lets you find an item of interest and then locate a library near you that owns it.


  1. ArchivesArchives Hub: Use the Hub to instantly scan the archival landscape and bring together diverse sources held in over 200 repositories across the UK. Historians will find the Hub an essential tool for their research. Postgraduate students can bring that extra unique something to their research. Educators can take advantage of the Hub to introduce students to primary sources for their coursework.
  2. British Library Research Archive: The British Library Research Archive is a database of papers and articles by British Library staff. It also contains papers by readers who have used the Library;s collections in their research and who do not have any institutional affiliation or access to another institutional repository. Papers from conferences organized and hosted by the British Library may also be included. The goal of the Archive is to provide free and full access to these materials, and to capture and preserve research that might otherwise be lost.
  3. Library of Congress: The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. Use the online site to find archived materials from across the world, but specifically for America from its founding to current documents.
  4. National Archives: This link leads to ARC, the Archival Research Catalog for this nation’s national archives. Not all finding aids and images on the NARA web site are currently described in ARC yet, although that is the goal. An updated version of Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States can be searched on the NARA web site to identify records of interest. You may also want to visit the Gateway for Educators and Students to find more resources.

About Sarah Bass

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Sarah manages the editorial operations for Best Online Universities. Her responsibilities include proofing, editing, and developing content for the company’s Web sites. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree from Drake University and an MA in Writing from DePaul University. When she isn't working on new and entertaining articles for BestOnlineUniversities.com you will most likely find her curled up with a good book, walking her dog, Roger, or breaking the sound barrier on the Nürburgring.