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Resources for Researchers and PhD Students

As a researcher, you can get overwhelmed by the volume of information that is easily reachable through the Internet. The problem is trying to maintain academic and scientific excellence and efficient working when faced with the tsunami of information. Although modern technology has brought us seemingly infinite information, we can also use technology to filter, organise and efficiently work with all that information. Hopefully, this practical list of resources will be useful to others performing academic, scientific and industrial research, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The resources in this article have a UK bias due to the location of the author. To suggest additions to the lists send an email, dan@tekeye.uk

Magnifying Glass

Tip: For University researchers, do not forget to use the resources provided by your academic institute, especially the library. The University wants you to do well as it means they do well. Your academic institute or research organisation is normally very supportive with programs in place to help researchers, not only through the library but can include a Doctoral College and a dedicated research office.

List of Resources for Researchers

Information Retrieval - Where to Find Academic Papers

Long-established engineering organisations have easy-to-search archives. Though membership of the organisation through your academic library or personal membership is usually required to read the articles or PDFs (though some are moving to Open Access), examples include:

Here are some other sources for finding research papers and articles:

A web tool that could be very helpful is Connected Papers. This allows you to enter a paper and produce a graph structure showing related papers, it may improve your efficiency when performing literature reviews. For an offline tool to help analyse bibliographic data see VOSviewer.

Connected Papers

If you require a subject-specific database, then Wikipedia has a list of academic databases and search engines.

Organising Tools

In-depth research requires discipline and organisation for efficient results, and reduced stress. Software tools can be a great help. Try a few tools to see which ones seem intuitive to use for your research work.

  • Mendeley references and datasets manager, online and computer client app.
  • Zotero is a free tool to help collect, organize, cite, and share research.
  • RefWorks references manager.
  • MyBib is a tool to help format a citation.
  • Open Science Framework is a free service to support research.
  • Tropy is a program to help organise research images and photos.
  • VOSviewer is software that can be used to visualise bibliometric and other types of linked items and data.

Data Repositories

The need for open science is more than the publishing of a paper. Access to citable data sets is increasingly important as science addresses the need for reproducibility of results in published research. Further, data sets should be accessible for verification of results. Your institute may have a data share that can provide public links, alternatively, try these:

Helpful Tools

  • gist, researching an ontology, start with a solid foundation. gist, from Semantic Arts, is a base ontology for business concepts using the fewest number of primitives.
  • MathDeck, build and explore mathematical formulae. MathDeck is an online service to help understand and find mathematical formulae. You can compose a formula by hand or by using LaTeX to get help on a mathematical formula and mathematical symbols.
  • Open English WordNet, need data for language research, Open English WordNet is a useful resource. Other WordNets exist, e.g. Portuguese at OpenWordnet-PT.

Writing Tools

The grind of writing can be helped with these tools.

  • Overleaf for online LaTeX editing, document creation and collaboration. There is a list of advantages to using LaTeX instead of a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, in this article.
  • Grammarly writing assistant does a lot more than a normal spelling and grammar checker.
  • Some publications work with Paperpal to automate paper checking before publication, for example, Paperpal Preflight for IEEE Access.

If you struggle to get going with a new paper start by putting down section headers as a guide to organising your thoughts. Science and engineering papers can follow the IMRaD format (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) as a starter. However, it is high-quality scientific content that matters, not religiously sticking to a particular format. Other ways exist to help organise what is going to be covered in a paper, e.g., a structured abstract that could follow OMRC (Objective, Methods, Results and Conclusion) or a variation of it.

Low-Cost Open Access Journals for Paper Publishing

This list of resources is mainly for STEM researchers looking for low-cost Open Access publishing routes. Note: There are a lot of publishing scams you may come across, especially when your first paper is published with your email address. Criminals set up fake journals and conferences to obtain money for registration and publishing fees. Always check the reputation of the journal or conference.

Appearance in this list is not an endorsement, please satisfy yourself that the publication is of sufficient quality for your paper (see the section on Assessing for Research Impact).

Open Access

Many institutions and early career researchers cannot afford to pay the high Article Processing Charges (APC) of a journal. In some cases paying an APC allows for a paper to be published Open Access, therefore available for free to everyone. Open Access publishing is increasingly required for higher research ratings, as it is seen to be helping spread scientific knowledge, especially to impoverished countries.

Some of the more wealthy institutions have programs available to help pay the APC. Some research projects will allow the research funds to be used for an APC. There are many considerations, MDPI AG has a useful page on Funding of APCs. If you cannot afford to pay the APC then try and find a sponsor who will (e.g. a company associated with the research project). The alternative is to publish without Open Access so that the journal recovers costs by charging for access to the article. See Inderscience as an example of an organisation that provides free publishing for restricted access or Open Access for an APC.

If you do not publish under Open Access at least ensure that the terms and conditions allow you to host a version of the paper in your University's online repository, or on a personal website or blog. Most publishers are moving to this model as they realise that the movement to open up research to a larger audience needs this requirement. To help determine if that option is supported by the paper publisher try the RoMEO service.

Warning: There are publishing organisations that do not adhere to high academic standards, make sure you avoid predatory open access publishing.

To help find a Journal to publish your research as Open Access try:

To learn more about Open Access:

To publish your work as an Open Access book take a look at Open Book Publishers or unglue.it.

Preprints - Not Always a Good Idea

It is important that your published research is peer-reviewed. This validates your research and ensures high standards of scientific practice. Your peers are your colleagues, your supervisors, conference and workshop panels, journal editors and reviewers, other researchers and scientists in your domain of research, and the wider scientific community. A preprint archival service will expose papers and scientific work before peer review and publication. The idea behind preprinting is to ensure the research results are checked, receive constructive criticism, and important science is disseminated quickly and widely (which was great during the COVID-19 pandemic). Plus, work is given priority over other results as authors are effectively registering their scientific contribution which is important in fast-moving fields. Further, preprinting supports Open Science initiatives. However, preprints need careful consideration as there are downsides. Some publication outlets are not friendly to preprinted papers. Paper content and data can be taken and reused by others in their work. Some low-quality science appears on preprint services and could taint your work. Indeed information overload and, as previously mentioned, the reproducibility of results is seen as a concern in the scientific community. Finally, do you want your work freely available, particularly if it may have potential commercial value (business idea, patent, or licensable copyright)?

Here is a list of preprint services, remember, preprint only if you have a definite need for it. A good preprint service will have some requirements to meet to stop spamming from low-quality contributions.

  • arXiv, the best-known long-standing preprint archival service for the major sciences.
  • bioRxiv, the preprint archival service for biology papers.
  • medRxiv, the health sciences preprint archival service.
  • TechRxiv, the technology archive is a preprint service for engineering and technology research.
  • Open Science Framework, the Center for Open Science has a preprint service.
  • SocArXiv, the social sciences preprint archival service is run by OSF.
  • viXra, an alternative preprint archival service (note it is arXiv spelt backwards).
  • ResearchGate, if you have a ResearchGate profile you can add preprints.

For more preprint services see the lists at Wikipedia and ASAPBio.

General Article Publishing

Your work may also benefit from writing general articles and blog posts. Also, try:

Don't forget, as previously mentioned, how easy it is to publish on a personal blog or website. If you do, ensure that the article meta-data is suitable for academic indexing according to the Google Scholar Inclusion Guidelines for Webmasters.

Publicising Research, Networking and Collaborating

Accessing Expensive Test Equipment and Facilities

Research may require the use of costly facilities and equipment that are not available within your institution. Accessing other equipment and facilities is another advantage of building up a network of research contacts. Your network may be able to help you overcome hurdles in finding facilities and equipment.

Other resources for facilities and equipment are available:

Assessing for Research Impact

Expanding Your Knowledge

  • Developing as a researcher, support from Vitae.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare, need to brush up on a new knowledge area.
  • Khan Academy, another source of useful courses to expand your knowledge, e.g. improving English grammar or your knowledge of statistics.
  • Duolingo, learn another language.
  • Dodona, need to get up to speed with computer programming, try Dodona from Ghent University.
  • The Programming Historian has useful articles for non-programmers who need to process data with digital tools.
  • Wikibooks have free online books on various topics.

Presenting Your Work and Research Achievements

Other Useful Links

See Also

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