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World’s Top 10 search-engines of Scholarly literature

List of most popular search engines of scientific papers and research articles.


What was your primary source of information during your undergraduate studies? Wikipedia? Google?

Aah, they are not going to work especially if you are planning to go for Masters of PhD studies or are already enrolled in one of the masters or doctoral program in your university. At higher stage of learning, more robust, more scientific and more reliable databases of knowledge are needed. Let us share with you Top 8 databases in the world which are serving millions of postgraduate students, professors and scientists around the world.

A pic by quark.ai


  • Google Scholar

Perhaps the most widely known search-engine to look for papers in the world is Google Scholar, which is so popular that hardly any postgraduate can claim being unaware of it. 

Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in beta in November 2004, the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents. While Google does not publish the size of Google Scholar’s database, scientometric researchers estimated it to contain roughly 389 million documents including articles, citations and patents making it the world’s largest academic search engine in January 2018. Previously, the size was estimated at 160 million documents as of May 2014. An earlier statistical estimate published in PLOS ONE using a Mark and recapture method estimated approximately 80–90% coverage of all articles published in English with an estimate of 100 million. This estimate also determined how many documents were freely available on the web.

Google Scholar (owned by Google Inc.); scholar.google.com


  • Scopus

Scopus (scopus.com/search/form.uri) is not ScienceDirect but is being run by Elsevier. It is most powerful search engine after Google Scholar. Scopus is an index and by searching within Scopus you would find all papers that are indexed in Scopus. It’s outreach is broader than that of Elsevier as you can find literature from other publishers as well in it.


  • ScienceDirect

It should be noted here that except GoogleScholar and XueshuBaidu all search-engines listed here belong to certain publishers. Thus, when you would search within them, you are searching in the database of scholarly articles and books being published by these publishers.

ScienceDirect.com is one of the most popular databases, owned by Elsevier. Elsevier is a Dutch information and analytics company and one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical, and medical information. It was established in 1880 as a publishing company. It is a part of the RELX Group, known until 2015 as Reed Elsevier. Its products include journals such as The Lancet and Cell, the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, the Trends and Current Opinion series of journals, the online citation database Scopus, and the ClinicalKey solution for clinicians. Elsevier’s products and services include the entire academic research lifecycle, including software and data-management, instruction and assessment tools.

All literature available at ScienceDirect is at least indexed in Scopus and at most in Ei Compendex, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI etc.

ScienceDirect (owned by Elsevier); www.sciencedirect.com


  • Wiley

Wiley Online Library (https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/) is owned by John Wiley & Sons, Inc, which is one of the famous publishers of scientific and academic works. This search engine would allow you to explore within all journals by Wiley. From 2021, Hindawi publishing group is also owned by Wiley.


  • IEEE Xplore

IEEE Xplore (ieeexplore.ieee.org) is one of the favorite search engines of the scholars from engineering and technical disciplines.

IEEE Xplore is owned by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE is a professional association with its corporate office in New York City and its operations center in Piscataway, New Jersey. It was formed in 1963 from the amalgamation of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers. IEEE claims to be the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities.

All literature available at IEEE Xplore may not be necessarily indexed in Ei Compendex database however most of the publications by IEEE are at least indexed in Ei Compendex. Ei Compendex is the broadest and most complete engineering literature database available in the world. It provides a truly holistic and global view of peer reviewed and indexed publications with over 20 million records from 77 countries across 190 engineering disciplines. Overall, the literature in IEEE Xplore may be indexed in various popular databases including Ei Compendex, Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI etc.

IEEE Xplore Digital Library (owned by IEEE); ieeexplore.ieee.org


  • SpringerLink

SpringerLink (link.springer.com) is one of the most important search engines among the scholars from various disciplines. It is owned by Springer Nature. Springer Nature is an academic publishing company created by the May 2015 merger of Springer Science+Business Media and Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, and Macmillan Education.

SpringerLink provides researchers with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works and proceedings. Literature in SpringerLink may be indexed in various popular databases including Ei Compendex, Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI etc.

SpringerLink (owned by Springer Nature); link.springer.com


  • Scilit

Scilit (www.scilit.net) is one of the modern search engines for searching scholarly publications from various disciplines. Scilit is owned by MDPI. MDPI is an organisational acronym used by two related organisations, Molecular Diversity Preservation International and Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, which were both co-founded by Shu-Kun Lin. The first organisation, Molecular Diversity Preservation International, founded in 1996, is primarily a chemical sample archive, with some scholarly publishing and conference activities. The second organisation, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, was founded in 2010, primarily as a publisher. As of 2018 MDPI publishes 213 academic journals, including 37 that have received an impact factor.

Scilit search engine not just searches in the databases of MDPI publications but in the databases of other publishers as well. Thus, unlike ScienceDirect, IEEEXplore and SpringerLink, it is more comprehensive search-engine and can be compared with GoogleScholar and XueshuBaidu.

Scilit provides researchers with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works and proceedings. Literature in Scilit may be indexed in various popular databases including Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI, Ei Compendex and some other, relatively unpopular, databases etc.

Scilit (owned by MDPI); www.scilit.net


  • Emerald Insight

Recently, Emerald Insight, one of the most famous publishers of scholarly literature has launched its own search-engine. Emerald Publishing Limited is a scholarly publisher of academic journals and books in the fields of management, business, education, library studies, health care, and engineering. It was founded in the United Kingdom in 1967 and has its headquarters in Bingley.

According to their official website, Emerald publishes monographs, handbooks, serials and professional texts across business and social science championing new ideas that would advance research and practice. Emerald Insight (emerald.com/insight) is likely to provide scholars with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works and proceedings published by Emerald Insight.  Currently, the site is being run as pilot project however it is expected to be launched soon after some trials. Literature in Emerald Insight may be indexed in various popular databases including Ei Compendex, Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI etc.

EmeraldinsightBETA (owned by EmerlaInsight Inc.); emerald.com/insight


  • XueshuBaidu

Have your ever found your Chinese lab-mates or colleges, searching on a very unique search – engine that you had never heard about? Yes, that’s XueshuBaidu (xueshu.baidu.com), a Chinese alternative to GoogleScholar and equally rich in terms of its access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols, reference works and proceedings. It is owned by Baidu Inc., a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence, headquartered in Beijing’s Haidian District. It is one of the largest AI and internet companies in the world.

All literature available at XueshuBaidu may not be necessarily indexed in CNKI database however most of the publications are at least indexed in CNKI database. CNKI is a key national information construction project under the lead of Tsinghua University, and supported by PRC Ministry of Education, PRC Ministry of Science, Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China and PRC General Administration of Press and Publication. This project was firstly launched in 1996 by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Company. The first database was China Academic Journals Full-text Database, which became popular in China rapidly, especially in academic libraries. In 1999, CNKI started to develop online databases. Till now, CNKI has built a comprehensive China Integrated Knowledge Resources System, including journals, doctoral dissertations, masters’ theses, proceedings, newspapers, yearbooks, statistical yearbooks, ebooks, patents, standards and so on. 10 services centers have been set in Beijing, North America, Japan, North Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. And it is widely used by universities, research institutes, governments, think tanks, companies, hospitals and public libraries. Overall, the literature in XueshuBaidu may be indexed in various popular databases including Ei Compendex, Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI, Ei Compendex etc.

XueshuBaidu (owned by Baidu Inc.); http://xueshu.baidu.com/


  • Taylor & Francis

Taylor & Francis (www.tandfonline.com) owns rich literature on almost every topic. Overall, the literature in T & F may be indexed in various popular databases including Ei Compendex, Scopus, SCI, SCIE, SSCI, ESCI, Ei Compendex etc.


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