Getting started can sometimes be the most challenging part of a new project. You have too many ideas. You have no ideas. Your ideas are too big. Your ideas are too small. Don’t panic, our Junior Science & Humanities (JSHS) team has got your back! We are starting a series of blog posts to help you get your original research off the ground.
An original research project is just that: original. That means no one has investigated the same question you are interested in learning more about in the same way that you are planning to tackle it. Reading about a topic that interests you is also a great way to narrow down your ideas (if you have too many), come up with an idea (if you are stuck and don’t yet have an idea), or right-size your project (if your ideas seem too big or too small).
Our advice is to avoid doing a general internet search for your topic. You know where that will end up— cat videos.
Instead, search reputable open access journals. They publish primary research articles that you can read for free.
Here is a list of trusted open access sources:
- Elsevier, a global information analytics business, has made available several open access journals to the public through ScienceDirect. Here, you can browse all their open access journals by name or narrow the search by selecting a topical area of interest. Not all the journals on ScienceDirect are open access. However, the search capabilities allow you to select only journals that are open access, or even journals that may not be completely open access but contain some open-access articles.
- Directory of Open Access Journals provides almost 14,000 open access peer-reviewed journals from 130 countries. The topics covered in this directory range from agriculture to technology, including anthropology, medicine, and social sciences. Articles and journals on DOAJ are searchable via key terms or are browsable by subject.
- Nature Communications and Scientific Reports are open access research journals that publish major science research that doesn’t quite have the impact to be published in the major science research journal, Nature. The articles are high quality and have gone through stringent peer-review.
- Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a mega journal that started with PLOS One, the world’s largest multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal. PLOS Journals are free to search, access, and redistribute.
- Sage Open is an open access journal published by Sage publishers that is dedicated to the social sciences.
- SpringerOpen is a place where one can search and access any of Springer’s 200+ open access journals. Springer journals use high-level peer-review practices to provide a trusted source of primary research.
- Wiley, a large publishing network that has been around for over 200 years, provides a listing of open access journals that they publish. These journals can be browsed by the journal name or by subject area.
- Check out this new browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that finds open access versions of journal articles that would otherwise be hidden behind a paywall! The best part? It’s 100% legal and funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, so you can be assured it’s legitimate.
If you are reading an open access journal that isn’t listed above, take a moment to evaluate if the journal is trustworthy. CrossRef maintains a listing of member journals. Members must maintain compliance to certain terms and can and will be removed if those terms are not met. Another evaluation tool is Ulrichsweb. This directory can tell you if a listed journal uses peer-review and more.
Next time, we’ll be discussing the structure of a research article. We’ll be sharing tips for how to quickly get the most out of an article, leaving you with time for a few more cat videos.
We look forward to learning about your research projects at JSHS!