The internet offers access to vast amounts of information on scientific and healthcare-related topics. But how can you be sure that the information you find on the internet is accurate and reliable?
One way is to access scientific research via websites that publish, or draw their information from, peer-reviewed journal articles. These are articles written and reviewed by experts, that are published in scientific magazines or journals.
Journal articles are generally available on-line, and may be downloaded as PDFs, though many journals are also published in print format.
See below for some examples of peer-reviewed journals.
Cover images of some key journals: American Journal of Bioethics, BMJ, International Journal of Nursing Studies Advances, JAMA, The Lancet, Nature Biomedical Engineering, and the New England Journal of Medicine
Many journals are premium publications, meaning paid subscriptions are required to read them. Subscriptions can be expensive, so the only way for most students or researchers to access premium journals is via institutional subscriptions paid for by organisations such as universities or NHS Trusts. As long as an individual remains affiliated with these organisations, they can continue to access subscribed journal content for free.
However, if you are not associated with a university, NHS Trust or other, similar institution, you will generally need to rely on open access journals to read interesting or relevant research papers.
Open access journals are publications whose contents are freely available on the internet. They provide public access to scientific research and other literature without requiring the reader to pay.
Unfortunately, some open access journals are not very reputable e.g. they claim to peer-review papers to a rigorous standard before publishing them, but fail to do so.
However, many open access publishers produce good-quality, reliable journals and articles. See below for some examples. The other sections of this LibGuide will show you how to access some of this open access content.
Logos of some open access publishers and platforms: BioMed Central, CORE, Directory of Open Access Journals, and Public Library of Science (PLOS)