Tuesday, 7 May, 2019 - 12:30
Learn how to access library databases, take advantage of the functionality they offer, and devise a proper search technique.
Your gateway to a wide range of online information resources
If you are an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student you can access the Open University (OU) Library’s electronic resources from one month prior to the module start date for each module you register for up to three months after the module end date. Access to the library continues with each module as long as you are registered on a module and actively studying.
Once your studies are complete you can use Publicly available resources to support your ongoing professional development.
Scholarly material is increasingly being made available through Open Access schemes. The OU’s repository Open Research Online (ORO) contains details of works published by OU staff. Much of the material is freely available, but in many cases you need to email the author to request papers (via the ORO website).
There are other Open Access repositories, such as
You can install plugins for your browser that will connect you to the full text of articles, if they are available on Open Access, such as
For general internet searching for academic resources use Google Scholar. You may not get the full text of articles this way, but it will be a way of discovering reliable academic references and sources to follow up.
As a member of the public you can access the British Library’s collections in St Pancras, London or Boston Spa, Yorkshire. Registration is required to use this service and there is more information about this on the British Library’s website:
The British Library also provide Help for Researchers on their website. This includes a service for purchasing electronic copies of journal articles.
Some university libraries allow members of the public to borrow books for a fee. Some also allow non-borrowing access, without paying a fee. Contact your local university library to find out what level of service is provided.
You may be able to order books and journal articles via inter-library loan from your local public library. There will be a cost for this service. In addition, public libraries are increasingly providing online access to academic databases. Many UK Public Libraries now have access to the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Reference, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Check with your local public library to see if they are available near you.
Some publishers have websites and blogs where content is made freely available. For instance the Cambridge Journals blog makes journal articles available for a limited time directly after publication.
Academics and universities are increasingly using blogs to publicise their work and discuss issues of importance to them. This is another way of keeping up to date with current research. You can search for these depending on what your particular topic of interest is. This is also a good way of finding out about conferences and events that relate to research topics relevant to you.
Elsevier offers unlimited complimentary access to all journals and books on ScienceDirect for post-doctoral scholars who have recently received their PhDs and currently do not have a research position. This program allows those who qualify to have access to scientific journals and books in their field for up to 6 months.
You'll have read-only access to your module website for three years after you have finished studying the module. Check your StudentHome page to see if a link to the module is available. Select the Study link and then the name of the module. When the page opens there'll be a link to the website near the top of the page if read only access is available.
A selection of study materials are available online for free.
The library also has a reference only collection of current and archived print and audio-visual OU study materials.