6 Free Search Engines for Academic Research

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This article covers 6 free search engines for academic research. Whether you are doing research, writing a thesis, preparing for a presentation, or doing other academic work, thorough research on the topic is always important and helpful  Although a regular search engine might help you with that, it won’t be as sufficient and relevant as a dedicated search engine for academic research.

Here, I compiled a list of free search engines that can help you with your academic research and other related work. All these search engines are free to use and also provide full documentation and data for all the open access documents. Furthermore, each of them packs an advanced search tool to customize the search and filter out the results. Let’s dive in the article and evaluate these search engines for academic research in details.

Also read: 5 Free Scholarly Search Engines for Students

6 Free Search Engines for Academic Research:

Microsoft Academic


Microsoft Academic is one of the best free academic search engines. It covers millions of papers from millions of authors along with thousands of topics, journal, conferences, and institutions. At the homepage, it lists top authors, top institutions, and shows the trending topics based on the citation growth rate. Speaking of citation, this search engine also has a citation list where you can save quickly cites for later use while browsing the content.

When you search your query on this academic search engine, it lists all the available info on that topic and lists the results by relevance. From there, you can sort the results by time and citations as well.

The result page has three sections. The section on the right provides a brief intro of the topic and lists the parent topics, child topics, and other related topics. These suggestions are helpful to dive in details by covering all the aspects.

The left-side section suggests the topic related to the query keyword, lists top authors, institutions, journals, and conferences from the same domain along with publication types. you can use these options to filter the results and discover more content for research.

The results of the query are listed in the center section. For each result, it covers the name, publication info, authors, institutions, topics, info, citations along with share and download option. The download option appears only on the free publications whereas the citations options let you copy the cite to your citation list.

The large library of research topics, papers, journals, institutions, and authors combines with all these features makes the Microsoft Academic one of the best options to go with for academic research.

Try this scholarly search engine here.

World Wide Science


World Wide Science is a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals. The collection of giant scientific databases make it a great source for academic research.

When you search something on this search engine for academic research, it finds the relevant resources from all over the world and translates them to your preferred language. It sorts the results by their types in the following sections:

  • Papers
  • Multimedia
  • Data/Software
  • Public Access
  • All

From there, you can dive into any of these sections and follow a resource to its location on the web. In each section, you can sort the results either by rank or limit them by categories. You can also select one or multiple results and email them or print them to PDF.

On the left side, you get an option to filter out the results by time. This section also has clusters where it related topics, authors, studies, publications, document type, source, etc.

Apart from the regular search, this search engine has an advanced search option where you can search for specific types of resources by entering full record, title, author, date range, and preferred language.

Give this academic search engine a try here.



Science.gov is another free search engine for academic research which is identical to World Wide Science. This search engine covers the U.S. government science information only. Apart from that, almost everything is the same as World Wide Science.

It returns your  query with the relevant results and lists them in the three following sections:

  • Text
  • Multimedia
  • Public Access

You can sort the results in all these sections either by ranking or by categories. On the left side, you can filter out the results by date range and view topic cluster related to your query. And, you can email or print the results as well.

You can try this academic search engine here.



Base-Search is another free search engine for academic research. This search engine has more than 140 million documents from more than 6,000 sources. When you run a query on this search engine, it fetches the relevant results along with lots of options to customize the search and filter out the results.

First, you can customize the search by selecting what your keyword resembles. Does it resemble a title, author, subject or an entire document? Then, you can sort the results by title, author, date, publications, etc. You can also refine the results by selecting the author, subject, DDC, year of publication, content provider, language, document type, access and terms of re-use. This search engine also gives you an option to boost open access documents. Doing this lists the free to use documents at the top.

In the results, it lists the title, authors, year of publication, etc. for each result and shows a un-locked icon to resemble the open access document. From there, you can view a document in detail, email it, add to favorites, check in and Google Scholar. Furthermore, you can also export the records to any  of the following formats:

  • RefWorks
  • EndNote
  • RIS
  • BibTeX
  • MARC
  • PDF
  • RTF
  • JSON
  • YAML

Apart from all that, this search engine also has advanced search and an option to browse the data manually.

Search content for academic research here.



The next free search engine for academic research on this list ERIC. This search engine has two search options; one to search collections and other for thesaurus. The Collection is the option that you can use to find data for academic research. While the search for something, you can also option-in for peer-reviewed only content or full text available on ERIC. The full text available on ERIC filter fetches the documents which are freely available on ERIC whereas the other option includes outer sources as well.

In the results, this search engine, list the results by titles along with authors, brief into, and descriptors. Alongside each result, it mentioned whether the source is peer reviewed or not and provides a direct link to that. It also lets you download the document files directly whenever available.

Apart from that, it lists the following information on the left side to further filters the results and discover more content for the research:

  • Publication Date
  • Descriptor
  • Source
  • Author
  • Publication Type
  • Educational Level
  • Audience
  • Location
  • Laws, Policies & Programs
  • Assessments and Surveys and more

Give ERIC a try here.

Research Gate


Last, but not least, Research Gate is another search engine for academic research. This search engine is powered by 15+ million researchers and 118+ million publication. When you search something on this search engine, it lists the publications, data, authors, and questions relevant to your query in separate sections.

The publications section lists relevant articles which you can open and download full-text PDF. It also gives you an option to download the citations separately. The data section provides the research data files if available. And, in the author section, you can browse the work of various authors in the same domain. Lastly, the question section is where you can find questions on a topic along with their answers by the public. You can also submit your questions there to get answers from the Research Gate community.

This search engine has paid plans but the researcher can request for a free account and utilize the resources for their research.

Try ResearchGate yourself here.

Closing Words:

These are the 6 free search engine for academic research. These search engines can be really helpful in your academic research. You can quickly find content and research work done by other people from all around the globe. Furthermore, you can also submit your work to help others.

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