These are Web sites that provide research materials or links to these materials. Some of these services, such as Amazon, also provide reader reviews. Others, such as Google Scholar, feature links to other  works that cite its scholarly content. They are distinguished by their ability to provide or link to in‐depth information in one or more areas. While the sites themselves are free, they may lead to information that needs to be paid for or subscribed to.

Examples: LibraryThingAmazonGoogle Scholar


To evaluate a free research site, consider the following:


  • The content is in‐depth and rich enough to meet your needs.

  • The provider and purpose of the site, and whether these might have an effect on the information provided.

  • The type of material that appears on the site, e.g., a mixture of scholarly and popular materials, or scholarly materials only.

  • Whether the site provides the content, or points to other sources, which would then need to be evaluated in turn.

  • The ease of obtaining the full text of the material, if it is not available within the site itself (for example, the resources returned in a Google Scholar search).

  • Most of the reviews on the site, if present, are informative and well‐written.

  • The identity and expertise of the author or authors of the specific content you are interested in. A multitude of people might contribute information/opinions/reviews, and it might not be possible to get background information on them or their expertise.

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