Using freely accessible resources



You have started working on your master or PhD thesis. You need access to publications, articles and data in your field that already exist. This is where your orienteering starts…

Access and reuse

The Open Science movement aims to facilitate access to scholarly content and to promote its reuse.

We often speak of:

  • Open Access resources: Thanks to their authors and/or their editors these resources ca be accessed freely. You don’t need an institution, such as a university or a research institute, that enables access.
  • Free resources: These are not only freely accessible; they also often allow reuse depending on the licence. Creative Commons licences allow the reuse (e.g. of graphics, slides etc.) as long as you comply with the conditions stipulated by the authors.


Worth knowing: The fact that a resource is freely accessible does not guarantee its quality or lack of it. Like all document resources it must be assessed critically before it is utilised.

Where can you search for resources?

Open Access journal platforms:

Open Access journals can have different business and editing models. Among the few Open Access journals in economics listed in rankings are:

  • Theoretical Economics: Established in 2006 by the Econometric Society, a US scholarly association, and one of the first Open Access journals to be included in the SSCI.
  • Quantitative Economics: The other Open Access journal of the Econometric Society has been published since 2010. In contrast to its sister journal “Theoretical Economics” it has an application-oriented focus.
  • SERIEs: SERIEs is the journal of the Spanish Economic Association. It was created in 2010 by merging two renowned Spanish journals, “Spanish Economic Review” and “Investigaciones Económicas”. SERIEs is published as an Open Access journal by Springer in the SpringerOpen context.
  • Monthly Labor Review: The Monthly Labor Review was published first in 1915 and is edited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The range of topics covers all aspects of the labour market.

In Germany, the IZA Institute of Labor Economics – which has been publishing an internationally renowned working paper series for many years – offers three Open Access journals which are peer reviewed. These are:

Open Access repositories

Open archives hold many scientifically relevant resources. These open archives can be organised by disciplines, institutions or nation states. If you have not been given specific guidelines you can ask your institution’s library or the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics for advice on choosing the most suitable repository.

  • EconStor: The publication server of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics holds more than 200,000 full-texts in Open Access, mostly from German economic researchers. These are mainly working papers, but also include conference contributions and journal articles. A part of the EconStor publications is available through RePEc and can also be found in Google Scholar and EconBiz.
  • RePEc: Although RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is not a repository in the original sense (it does not store full-texts, but merely offers a decentralised union catalogue with links to full-texts), it must be listed here because for many researchers it is the most widely known source for full-texts in economics. Nearly half of all publications linked there (mostly journal articles and working papers) are freely available. RePEc is operated decentrally by a team of economists on a non-commercial basis.
  • SSRN: The Social Science Research Network is the largest repository in economics. As the name indicates, it is an interdisciplinary offer which covers all social sciences (including some humanities). Here you can access around 500,000 full-texts in Open Access, a large part of which are from economics. SSRN is owned by the academic publisher Elsevier.
  • AgEconSearch: It is a disciplinary repository operated by the University of Minnesota and funded mainly by the “Agricultural and Applied Economics Association”. It holds around 150,000 freely accessible full-texts, mostly from agriculturural and applied economics. All publications on AgEconSearch are also indexed in RePEc.
  • MPRA: The Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA) is hosted by LMU Munich University and contains 50,000 economics publications from all over the world. Most of them are not provided by institutions or publishers, but by individual researchers through self-upload. An editing team releases them, and they are indexed in RePEc.

Databases for theses or scholarly papers:

Such databases aggregate the digital theses collections of universities and research centres. Visit Dart-Europe or Open Access Thesis and Dissertation (OATD).

Specialised search engines:

Search engines customised for Open Access aggregate Open Access contents to make them more findable.

Core is a specialised search engine for openly accessible scholarly publications (books, articles, theses etc.).

Unpaywall can be installed as a browser add-on and offers freely accessible versions of all articles listed in its database.

BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) is one the world’s largest search engines for scientific online documents. The index contains more than 240 million documents from nearly 8,000 data providers. Around 60 per cent of the documents indexed in BASE have freely accessible full-texts. BASE is operated by Bielefeld University library.

Good luck with your research!

Date: March 2021
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