How do you access resources, research or relevant reports?

When you’re looking for research about a topic related to your work, or want to know if there are any programs that have had any success tackling an issue, or different ways of engaging with your community, where do you look?

Do you have a network or peer you turn to? Or is your first thought to do a little googling? Do you have access to an academic institutions library/resources?

Earlier this week I wrote a post talking about how we know it’s difficult to access research and knowledge, and that’s why we created the Knowledge Centre’s Evidence Library.

There are others that are tackling this challenge, and offering alternatives. For academic journals & articles:

  • deepdyve dubs itself the “largest online rental service for scholarly research” providing access to thousands of journals for $49/month (2 week free trial)

  • Unpaywall is an open database of 23 million+ free scholarly articles

  • SciHub hosts 50 million+ papers (many of them pirated, and therefore illegal). The lack of access has frustrated many, and in this Science article that asks “Who’s dowloanding pirated papers? Everyone” they show that researchers are turning to this option. Want to know more about this controversial site? Check out this article “Scientists vs publisher: Sci-Hub reveals flaws in academia

In specific fields, there are institutions that are gathering and sharing evidence, typically in a specific field. Mowat NFP has pulled together a list of Canada’s Evidence Institutions here.

I’m curious if anyone has used any of these offerings, and what your experience has been. If there are other options this community should know about, please share them!


Hi Stacey:
While I think a lot depends on context, I also think establishing a database of sorts is a necessary precursor to any strategic search. I use Zotero, for instance, which manages references, stores PDF files, reads in annotations and highlights, and can generate inline citations and final reference/works cited lists. I use it with the browser plugin to help autogenerate references from Firefox or Chrome (Zotero Connector), and I will create a folder and/or tags within Zotero to match the project name (for easy searching).

As for sources, this is where it gets specific related to context. Generally, a lot can be accessed through public libraries, including postsecondary libraries - most of which is free for any visitor to use while you’re physically in the library --no one checks ID for visitors; kind of an unwritten policy. (To borrow, you do need to get an external borrower card if available - for example, at U of T - this is arguably well worth the annual investment, especially if it grants you remote access.)

OECD, ERIC, PsycINFO, Community Wealth, Nesta … and many others, depending on the context or need.

Finally, while a Google search normally works, Google Scholar provides some additional tools. Worldcat is also really powerful.


Thanks @kris! Zotero seems like such a useful tool to manage your research!

Hi @smcdonald:

I agree, though I would say it’s because it supports my workflow. Similar tools - Sente, Papers, Mendeley, etc. - might accomplish similar things (and I’ve used some of them in the past), but Zotero alongside Google Scholar and Worldcat currently offer me the best support.

I’m still curious to hear about other resources folks find useful. For my part, I might also mention, with a grain of salt, LinkedIn and Medium. Self-publishing forums like these (as well as personal blogs) need to be considered critically, but as long as researchers are carefully evaluating sources, they can offer some interesting perspectives.