In this module, we’ll focus on special resources and search engines that can help you with scientific resources. If you’re looking for information on who is the main hero of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, you won’t find much here. But, if you’re looking for information on something like RNA or models of the universe’s development, you’ll certainly get your fill here.
Why do specialized “scientific” search engines exist at all? Can’t Google find everything? The answer is threefold. Mainly, Google finds too many search results that are very poorly filtered into ones that are truly scientific. So, if science is what you’re after, it’s suitable to use a tool that offers a certain basic filter for what is worth reading.
The second element is that these search engines can link more information and data together, so they’ll show you what you’re really looking for – like the name of an article or journal, the beginning of an annotation, or a link to download the resource. This kind of modified search is very practical and can be a great help to you.
Most of these search engines also offer something extra – the possibility to save resources, generate bibliographic records, or follow interesting authors or themes. All of this can then be of use to you in your publication process.
When a person is studying at university, he or she has access to a large amount of databases and electronic resources. But where should we look if we don’t have such a benefit?
- Google Scholar is probably the largest and most well-known search engine of this kind. It allows you to search in academic publications, academic theses or even patents. It offers very extensive results, and many resources can be downloaded (or the search engine will try to find them on servers like ResearchGate or Academia.edu). In a certain sense, this is probably the first place you can start looking for scientific resources. We highly recommend using the advanced search.
- Microsoft Academic Search is very similar in appearance to databases such as SCOPUS or WoS. It offers the opportunity to filter results by time, disciplines, workplaces, authors, etc. Contrary to Scholar, it has a smaller database of results and some work with categories is confusing, but on the other hand it offers much finer filtering and more pleasant presentation of results.
- ResearchGate was originally a social network for scientists, who uploaded their articles here. This is where you come in. If you’re looking for information on a specific problem or a certain author, you’re very likely to be successful here. If the paper isn’t freely available, there’s nothing easier than writing the author and asking him or her for the text. You’ll almost always get a positive reaction. On the other hand, ResearchGate isn’t very suitable for common searches.
- Arxiv is a website devoted to physics lovers (but also partially to mathematicians and information scientists) – here you’ll find freely accessible articles including those which haven’t yet been published in journals. Thus, you’ll always be able to find the newest texts here, completely free of charge.
- Theses offers the opportunity to browse through academic theses. In this case, we also recommend looking at the assessments of the theses so you aren’t using texts that are of poor quality. Generally speaking, this is an interesting resource in Czech.
- MuniSpace is a digital library of Masaryk University’s library, where you can find books that are published at this institution (some of which can be downloaded free of charge). You can also make use of the Digital Library of Masaryk University’s Faculty of Arts.
- Semantic Scholar can search through roughly 183 million articles and is visually and functionally similar to Microsoft Academic Search. Its filter for articles that are only available in PDF is also useful.
If you need a text that is not freely available, you can ask the author (this is usually the best path), buy it (which is usually quite expensive), or get it via Sci-hub, which isn’t great, but also isn’t punishable.