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Free Research Tools: Home

For Messiah alumni, Friends of Murray Library, and community users, access is to high quality research is often difficult to find. These sites are free to use from any internet connection.

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ERIC: Articles and reports on all aspects of education.

Google Scholar: Articles, theses, books, reports, and case laws from a variety of disciplines. The free version of Google Scholar offers access to abstracts and citations, and sometimes full-text.

JSTOR: Archive of full-text scholarly journal articles in a broad range of academic disciplines.  JSTOR offers a free version of their database, for example. If you'd like more in-depth access, you can pay a yearly or monthly fee.

PolicyMap: With easy-to-use menus, PolicyMap is a “GIS tool for non-GIS experts” for those who need to visualize large amounts of data quickly and easily, often down to the census tract or block group level. (6 month free access only for Messiah graduates, post-graduation)

PubMed: Comprehensive index to the Biomedical literature. PubMed comprises more than 27 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

Wiley Open Access: Publishes authoritative peer-reviewed open access journals across many research disciplines. Research articles published in Wiley Open Access journals are immediately freely available to read, download and share.

Directory of Open Access Journals: Search for Open Access, free journal articles by accessing every article for free.. Find a list of subject areas here.

Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR): OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.

MOSAIC,  the digital archive of Messiah University: Search for scholarly information authored by Messiah educators and students.

Digital Commons Network: Search over 3 million scholarly works from over 580 institutions for free

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers:"From the Library of Congress, digitized newspapers from 1836-1922 can be browsed and searched by state, keyword or advanced search. Additional links are available to a newspaper title directory for publications from 1690 – present.

Unpaywall is a browser plugin that allows users to access full-text PDFs of resources for free, when available. The tool harvests content directly from over 50,000 journals and open-access repositories from all over the world, and it uses great open data from PubMed Central, the DOAJ, Crossref (particularly their license information), and DataCite.

Currently, the browser plugin/extension is compatible with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Installing Unpaywall

Add the extension to your browser to get started:

Libraries and individuals have been busy digitizing and creating collections of materials that are in the Public Domain. Most items were published before 1925. Here are some notable collections:

  • Digital Public Library of America: Access to public domain materials hosted by a variety of libraries
  • Internet Archive: Access to public domain materials hosted by a variety of libraries and individual uploaders
  • LibriVox: online audiobooks from the public domain
  • HathiTrust Digital Library:HathiTrust makes the digitized collections of some of the nation’s great research libraries available for all.
  • Open Library: Borrow recently published books for an hour at a time. Free account needed.
  • Project Gutenberg:Offers over 53,000 free ebooks, most of which are primary source texts: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.

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US Statistics

International Statistics

United States-based data

Source of accurate and objective data about the nation's economy.

Provides information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.

Principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. The BLS is an independent national statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates statistical information.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation are organized by transportation mode, region, or subject. Finding Transportation Statistics provides additional resources for statistics.

Provides quick access to statistics on topics of public health importance and is organized alphabetically.

Provides statistics on children and families in the U.S. across a range of domains, including family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education and health.

Find data about the U.S., such as maps and population, demographic, and economic data.

Provides statistical information on citizenship, immigration, FEMA, and more.

Download, graph, and track 765,000 US and international time series from 94 sources.

The primary source for data on colleges, universities, and technical and vocational postsecondary institutions in the United States

Directory of international statistical agencies provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Includes a wide range of tables, articles, and data that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system.

National repository of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States; provides high quality data on nonprofit organizations and their activities.

Fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

Statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Data on key economic indicators such as GDP, inflation, unemployment, government debt and deficit.

Resources provide State and national statistics on child and family well-being indicators, such as health, child care, education, income, and marriage.

Data on population & housing, economy, and demographics. Easy Stats gives you quick and easy access to selected statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau through the American Community Survey.

Responsibilities of this Department include trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis.

Provides information and data covering energy production, stocks, demand, imports, exports, and prices.

Authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

Find data about the U.S., such as maps and population, demographic, and economic data.

Mission is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.

Conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples.

International Data

Research lab at William & Mary's Global Research Institute that equips policymakers and practitioners with better evidence to improve how sustainable development investments are targeted, monitored, and evaluated.

Provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Analysis and visualisation tool that contains collections of time series data on a variety of topics. You can create your own queries; generate tables, charts, and maps; and easily save, embed, and share them.

Comprehensive collection of South African macroeconomic, industry, trade and regional indicators.

The statistical office of the European Union situated in Luxembourg. Its mission is to provide high quality statistics for Europe.

Provides free access to food and agriculture data for over 245 countries and territories and covers all FAO regional groupings
from 1961 to the most recent year available.

Dedicated to collecting, analysing, interpreting and disseminating food and agriculture statistics that are relevant for decision-making.

World Health Organization's gateway to health-related statistics for more than 1000 indicators.

Freely available tool for searching public datasets.Importing, saving and linking tools are also available. See more from Google Public Data Help.

Compiles and produces labor statistics, with the goal of disseminating internationally-comparable datasets through a variety of data tools.

International Monetary Fund Statistical Databases include International Financial Statistics, Direction of Trade Statistics, Government Finance Statistics, and Balance of Payments Statistics.

Leading provider of Information Technology and Communications (ICT) services within the United Nations System.

Find demographic indicators, population pyramids, and source information for countries and areas of the world with a population of 5,000 or more.

Work spans a variety of programs and initiatives, helping ensure energy security, tracking clean energy transitions, collecting data, or providing training around the world.

Statistical online platform of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development where users can search and access OECD’s statistical databases.

Works on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.

Provides (in the form of tables, graphs and maps) indicators on export performance, international demand, alternative markets and competitive markets, as well as a directory of importing and exporting companies.

Free access to detailed global trade data. UN Comtrade is a repository of official international trade statistics and relevant analytical tables.

The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched a new internet based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point.

Facilitates greater economic integration and cooperation among its member countries and promotes sustainable development and economic prosperity.

Official and trusted source of internationally-comparable data on education, science, culture and communication. Browse stats by theme, indicator, or country.

Provides online access to different sets of data compiled by the UN Industrial Development Organization. While some data is available for the public, access to all datasets and variables is limited to registered users.

Free and open access to global development data. Browser by indicator to view the Education statistics.

Site gives free and easy access to data provided by International Organisations, such as the World Bank, the United Nations and Eurostat.

American Doctoral Dissertations

Digitized index of nearly 100,000 dissertations from 1933 to 1955.

Biblioteca Digital de Teses e Dissertacoes

Available only in Portuguese.

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine

Search engine especially for academic web resources.

Digital Commons Network

Brings together free, full-text scholarly articles from hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide.


Since July 1998 the German National Library has collected online dissertations and post-doctoral theses. Available only in German.

EBSCO Open Dissertations

A free database with records for more than 1.2 million electronic theses and dissertations from around the world.

Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS)

Access to the full text of electronically over 350,000 doctoral theses from the United Kingdom.

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)

Find dissertations/theses using the Publication Type filter during a search.

Latin America Cybertesis

Portal for accessing full text electronic dissertations and theses from several Latin American countries. Available only in Spanish

Memoire Online

Full text dissertations completed at African and French universities. Available only in French

National ETD Portal

Includes South African dissertations and theses.

Naval Postgraduate School Thesis and Dissertation Collection

Includes publicly accessible NPS Theses, Dissertations, MBA Professional Reports, Joint Applied Projects and other NPS degree-earning written works. Note: This collection is also available in the Homeland Security Digital Library database.

Gathers information about documents stored in research repositories from around New Zealand, and assembles them in one database. Includes doctoral and masters theses.

Open Access Theses and Dissertations

Index of over 1.6 million electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). To the extent possible, the index is limited to records of graduate-level theses that are freely available online.

ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Open

With PQDT Open, you can read the full text of open access dissertations and theses free of charge.

Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal (RCAAP)

Thousands of journal articles, conference papers, and thesis and dissertations distributed by several Portuguese repositories. Available only in Portuguese

Available only in French.

Theses Canada

Acquires and preserves a comprehensive collection of electronic and microfiche Canadian theses.


Explore collections from Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries, and archives. Includes search filters for locating theses.

A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. For more information about the Creative Commons licenses, click here.


Allows you to search open access images with different types of licensing options. Choose the "Filter" option to search for images with all types of CC licenses.


You may use Flickr to search for images under different Creative Commons licenses by choosing the Advanced Search option. Under Advanced Search, you must choose a license.


All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.

LIFE Photo Archive

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

Clip Art Etc.

Created by the University of South Florida, this site has a free classroom license; students and educators may use the clip art for non-commercial classroom projects.

Site dedicated to free vector graphics. All Adobe Illustrator AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, Corel Draw CDR files free to download.

Many museums and cultural institutions have opened their collections for creative uses.  Each website has their own usage policies that allow for a variety of licensing restrictions.

British Museum

Browse or search over 2 million objects from the museum collection. High-resolution images for educational use and academic publications may be downloaded for free.

Getty Images

Includes 35 million images free to embed for non-commercial purposes (you may not use the images to promote a service, a product or business).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media. Works that are covered by the new policy are identified with the acronym OASC.

National Gallery of Art

These digitized images of artwork have been determined to be in the public domain, are free to use and download, and can be used commercially or non-commercially.


Online collection of content from European libraries, archives, museums and other institutions. Once you run a search in their search bar, you can limit your results to items that are freely usable or available under a Creative Commons license using the facets under Copyright in the left menu.

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library has licensed all of its images in the Digital Image Library under a CC BY-SA license.

Smithsonian Open Access: Download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to more than 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections

Organizing your research is a crucial step in the overall research process. By organizing your research material you will be able to: easily retrieve your sources now and in the future; group similar sources together; and possibly identify potential patterns or links within your research topic.

  • EndNote Basic:  Allows for 50,000 reference storage and 2GB of free storage
  • Zotero: Extension plug-in. Free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research.
  • ZBib: ZoteroBib helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software.

Public libraries include many of the same services offered by a university library. Your local public library system can offer a lot of information. This includes:

  • Interlibrary loan. This service is often available for free.
  • Databases
  • Print books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Videos, music, and audiobooks
  • eBooks and eMagazines

For Pennsylvanians, find the nearest public library near you: Click Here

Outside of Pennsylvania: Use WorldCat's Library Search to find a library near you 

Search WorldCat's catalog to search and find books/media and the closest library that has it. Use your ZIP code. 

Many universities offer library access to local residents with proof of local residency. Ask at an academic library near you. 

Ask a Question!

Research Help:


Murray Librarians can:

  • Determine your information needs
  • Plan a research strategy
  • Find information
  • Evaluate information
  • Identify credible and scholarly sources
  • Cite and manage information
  • Ethically use information

Murray Library Circulation Desk:

Phone: (717) 691-6006, ext. 3860


Contact for help with accessing your account, renewing, returns, and fines/fees.