How to Find Scholarly Articles Online for Essays and Assignments

Last Updated: 02 February 2023

Places to find scholarly articles

When writing a research project or an essay for professional or academic purposes, there is never a substitute for reliable, up-to-date, and credibly refined information. Professors, instructors, and lecturers will insist on you using scholarly articles considered best sources for academic and professional writing.

And suppose you want to become a top-grade student. In that case, you definitely need to know where and how to find scholarly articles for your essays, research papers, and other writing projects. Otherwise, if you base your arguments on facts and evidence from non-scholarly sources, you will never make it to the top grades that only a few enjoy.

Fortunately enough, finding academic sources is today easier than in the past. The internet has made it possible to identify academic sources online. As long as you know where to look, you are assured to get sources with credible, relevant, valid, and trustworthy pieces of evidence to support your facts.

In this ultimate guide, you will learn over ten valuable tips on finding scholarly articles for free online. These tips and tricks will be game-changers for you henceforth. So let’s dig in, won’t we?

What is a scholarly article?

A scholarly article, also known as a research article, peer-reviewed article, or scientific article, refers to a piece of article that presents new research and provides new insights into academic issues. By being peer-reviewed, it means that experts within a specific field evaluate the pieces of articles before they are published in a scholarly or a research journal.

Some of the most common online research/scholarly journals include The Lancet, The BMJ, Biomaterials Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, PLOS Medicine, JAMA, The American Journal of Medicine, Annals of Tourism Research, and many more.

There are three types of scholarly journals: original research, review article, and theoretical article. The original research articles are based on studies or experiments; they report the process and findings of these research studies or experiments. The review articles include literature and systematic reviews that bring together the findings, discussions, and conclusions from various original research articles. Finally, the theoretical articles are written to contribute to theoretical foundations in a given field. The authors are mostly professionals who draw upon existing research to form new theories and explore theories in different ways. 

In a nutshell, scholarly articles have been written by experts who conduct original research or draw from existing research and are then blind peer-reviewed before being published in online research journals.

Why find scholarly articles when writing academic papers?

As per our interviews and survey from top students and professors, it emerged that the students who score the highest grades/marks for essays, research papers, dissertations, proposals, and other written academic tasks use scholarly articles 95% of the time they write.

This means that using scholarly articles, like in-text citations, in your essays and research papers bolsters your chances of presenting convincing arguments and counterarguments, which increases the chances of getting a good grade. And when you master this, you would have mastered the game of essay writing, so much so that writing any piece henceforth only fetches you the top grade.

All the assessors and graders want to see that you accessed and used the best, credible, and scholarly sources in your essays. It is the subtle rule of essay writing and applies even when writing research papers. These rules apply when writing any academic paper, a thesis, dissertation, or proposal.

Although the markers do not read the sources, you reference in your papers; they want to see how well you have mastered the citation game. In most cases, they never will go looking for these sources. In fact, they rarely do unless they have compelling reasons to. And this only means that you can steal the show by only citing scholarly articles. The bad news is that some strict graders and markers, the evil professors, will hunt down the sources and confirm for themselves.

You need to ensure that the sources used are credible and scholarly. Apart from scholarly articles, you can also use textbooks from libraries and Google books to fortify your arguments.

How do graders, markers, instructors, or professors assess sources

Although 90% of the time, the professors won’t care to countercheck the sources, when they do it, they do it with the thoroughness it deserves. As a matter of honesty, you need to stick to the referencing and formatting rules for academic papers.

The reason you have that reference list is so that the person grading your paper can scan through your in-text citations and reference list to ensure that all the sources tally and that they are scholarly. Some of the things the markers look for to determine if you used scholarly sources include:

Do not use terrible non-scholarly sources when writing. You can use them to familiarize yourself with the topic but do not cite them in your essays or academic papers.

11 Valuable ways to find Good Scholarly Articles

The moment of truth has finally come. Now that we understand the importance of scholarly articles and sources let's delve into the places you can access the academic sources that will help you ace your essays and any other assignments or homework from class. We will be researching and listening to update the list to enable you to seamlessly and freely access scholarly journals when writing essays, research papers, homework, or assignments.

1. The Online University/College library Databases

The college and university online libraries have grown to robustly provide access to articles. They are the best place you can find academic sources. Online libraries are ideal for finding both articles and books freely. In most cases, the universities subscribe to different journals, which guarantees that you will get access to high-quality sources.

Go to your online university’s online catalog while logged in and access the search bar from where you can search for articles using their titles, keywords, or other strings. In most cases, your university's online library will let you see whether you will access the scholarly articles (“online access” or “full text available.”).

2. Course Outline

The very first thing your instructor or professor will share with the entire class is the course outlines. Inside the course outline, you will get a list of sources that are recommended for each chapter, module, or lesson. You can leverage these lists to get credible, authoritative, relevant, and reliable scholarly articles.

3. Assigned readings from class

In most courses, the teachers provide a list of assigned readings that can also be an excellent source to access scholarly articles. Some of the readings are really excellent scholarly articles that can earn you some great marks if used within essays and assignments. If you are a student who thinks this way, you are many steps ahead of your classmates. You will get good-quality journals that you can reference as you write your paper.  Referencing them in your essay proves to your instructor that you are keen, which is a good reason to earn more marks.

4. Google Scholar

Once you discover Google Scholar, your endless search for scholarly articles online automatically comes to an end. Google Scholar ( offers access to top-quality journal articles. The good thing is that you can set parameters such as years, keywords, or titles, to enable you to access journals. Google scholar has links to the articles published in the open-access university research databases for free. You can bolster the search your university database by searching for articles on Google Scholar to find diverse articles covering your selected topic. For instance, if you are writing a term paper or essay that requires nursing theories, you can type theories in nursing, nursing theorist, or nursing theories on google scholar, and it will return many articles. You can then refine the search further by specifying the last five years and then select the articles that are relevant to your essay or term paper. We found the ability to download the articles in PDF or Word Document files or access them in HTML a plus from Google Scholar. Google scholar is probably superior to most of the university and college catalogs because it searches keywords in the titles and abstracts, giving you a more refined list of articles.

Sometimes, suppose the articles on Google Scholar are not open access. In that case, you can get the title and search for the articles manually from the school databases. In most cases, the chances are high that your university has institutional access to the sources. You can also leverage the “As Cited in” capability of Google Scholar to snowball your findings of the scholarly articles.

5. ResearchGate

ResearchGate, despite having a lower impact on the scientific community, is also another great place to get peer-reviewed credible journals. It is an online platform, just like Google Scholar, where academics store their articles. It is more of LinkedIn for academics or scholars.

 It mostly has published articles that are active works of scholars. Although there is a premium subscription, even the basic subscription can get you a couple of scholarly articles on your topic. In some instances, you can get an excellent scholarly article or a book that is private. Here, you can send a message to the author to send you a copy of the same. 

You can create a free account and get started with ResearchGate. Most of the researchers use ResearchGate to generate topic ideas and access articles. In addition, the top-grade students consider it among the best sources to get scholarly research articles for free.

Those in our teams that have published research and set them to private receive hundreds to thousands of requests from students and researchers who want manuscripts and published articles. However, if you are on a tight deadline, requesting access to the full articles would not be wise, as some requests take a day or two to be processed.

6. Academia.Edu

Like ResearchGate, also has several credible scholarly articles that you can use when writing your research paper or essays. You need to create an account to access these scholarly articles and books.

Again, you can also request full access from the authors if the specific source is set as accessible only by requests. Suppose you do not find the articles from this source. In that case, you can check with the online databases from your university or Google Scholar.

7. Directory of Open Access Journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals is a reputable community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to quality peer-reviewed journals. It has over 12000 journal articles and over 6 million article records. It includes both scientific and academic journals from diverse fields, primarily written in many languages. In addition, all the articles are freely accessible, so you can access, read, and print the full-text articles without paying.

8. Editorials

If you want to access scholarly articles, you can also check the editorials for the journal articles from where you can get direct access to these articles. Alternatively, you can get the titles and specifics of the articles and search them from the other places we have mentioned.

9. Researched Journals you have identified

When you have researched and found a handful of scholarly journal articles, you can snowball from their references section to get related articles.

First, go to the reference list or bibliography sections and identify the relevant scholarly articles and then search them through your school’s online database, Google Scholar, Research Gate, or Academia.

You can equally ask your librarian to help you search for a list of journals that you have generated from your research.

10. Lecture Slides from Class

If you are keen enough, you notice the lecture slides from class always have a list of sources. In addition, the lecturers are likely to quote sources in their lecture slides, some of which might be useful as you write your paper.

When you farm these sources, you can reference the works by the person, which will earn excellent marks. Focus also on the list of references on the last page of the lecture slides. Check whether there are sources you can use in your essay, research paper, or assignment. For your teacher to reference them, it means that they are wonderful sources.

Unless they are out of the 5-year publication window, you can use them. Although your instructor might withhold their lecture slides, take notes or photographs of the slides. You can try to find the lecture slides online as well.

You can equally email your teacher requesting the slides through your email. Finally, you can snowball from the sources after getting the PDF versions from Google Scholar, school databases, and other places.

11. Sci-Hub- The Controversial One

When you have an article's title or DOI number but cannot access it, you can easily do so through Sci-hub. Although many court battles have marred the shadow library website, one thing stands out: it offers free access to almost any scientific research paper and book. It bypasses the paywalls set by various journals and authors. It is no wonder it is used extensively across the world. You can access free scholarly articles and write a well-supported research paper or essay.

Parting Words

Undoubtedly, using scholarly sources makes you score better grades to support your arguments and counterarguments. For example, suppose you are a nursing student. In that case, you understand that using a peer-reviewed journal helps you write an evidence-based paper that will score the best grade. The same applies to other fields and subjects. Experts and professional researchers in all academic fields write scholarly articles.

We are determined to help you find substantial sources for your essay. We have detailed guides on using Google Scholar and getting the best sources, the number of references to use when writing assignments, and the best places to find scholarly articles.

Related Reading:

At this point, we believe that these insights from our research paper writers and top essay writers will help you become a top-performing student. However, if you have trouble finding sources and writing essays, contact us to organize how best we can help you.