Web search

The sites on this page are a selection of useful web search tools. They should be regarded as supplementary to the subscribed resources offered by the University. We recommend that you always search within the UL Electronic Resources portal at http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/eresources/index.php.

General web search

  • Google http://www.google.co.uk/ Google probably has the widest coverage of any general web search engine. Google also offers many specialised search engines, some listed below.
  • Bing http://www.bing.com/ Microsoft’s web search engine.
  • Yahoo http://uk.yahoo.com/ Another big general search engine.
  • WolframAlpha http://www.wolframalpha.com It’s not really a search engine as we know it, but a ‘computational knowledge engine’ or a mathematical web application using curated data from the web and elsewhere. An interesting tool.
  • Europeana http://www.europeana.eu/portal/ Site includes over 4.6 million digital items culled from over 100 European institutions, including the National Archives of Finland, the European Archive, the Louvre, and the Slovak National Gallery.
  • Clusty http://clusty.com/ Search results grouped into facets or clusters of similarity.
  • Gigablast http://www.gigablast.com/ A ‘clean-energy search engine’. 90% of its power usage comes from wind energy.
  • Deeper Web http://www.deeperweb.com Sorts Google search results into groups by source and type of information. Also offers plugins for IE and Firefox browsers.
  • Dogpile http://www.dogpile.com/ A ‘meta search engine’ which brings back results from several different search engines including Google and Yahoo.

Academic web search (bibliographic, repositories, e-journals)

Some of these resources are freely available, but a lot of academic resources require a subscription. All of the online resources subscribed to by the University can be accessed via http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/eresources/index.php.


  • Scopus http://www.scopus.com Possibly the most comprehensive bibliographic search engine available. Owned by publishers Elsevier. (NOTE: University subscribes to this service – off campus access via Raven password) 17,500 peer-reviewed journal titles fully indexed in total from 1996, abstracts only pre 1996 (ie. no citation info or full text search). Also conference papers, web pages, patent records, etc. See Scopus’ content coverage guide.
  • JSTOR http://www.jstor.org/ A large database of journal articles, images, letters and other primary sources. (NOTE: The earlier published material is now freely available to all, but the more recent material requires a subscription. The University subscribes to this service – off campus access via Raven password)
  • Google Scholar http://scholar.google.co.uk Google’s scholarly’ or academic search engine. When accessing on-campus, results available through UL Electronic Resources are highlighted. Citing information may not be accurate. We do not advise paying to access a research paper found through Google Scholar – please check with the Library first.
  • Microsoft Academic Search http://academic.research.microsoft.com/ from Microsoft Research in beta’—interesting and improving, it may not have the coverage of Google Scholar but is attempting to provide more accurate and consistent citation information, including some visualisation tools showing links between co-authors etc.
  • OAIster http://oaister.worldcat.org/ Open Archive Intiative search engine covering items in thousands of academic open archives of research material. Note that the archives are open but the items stored in them may not be. OAIster is now owned by OCLC as a freely accessible database available within WorldCat.
  • BASE http://www.base-search.net/ Bielefeld Academic Search Engine—another open archives search engine. ‘BASE is one of the biggest OAI-Search-Engines and includes some 28 million documents originating from more than 1,780 repository servers’
  • UK Institutional Repository Search http://irs.mimas.ac.uk/demonstrator/
  • Open data catalogs http://datacatalogs.org/ ‘DataCatalogs.org aims to be the most comprehensive list of open data catalogs in the world.’
  • EThOS http://ethos.bl.uk/ Electronic Theses Online Service—search across 250,000+ theses from 90+ higher education institutions and order full text quickly and easily’ (Free registration required). Note: theses from Cambridge and Oxford are not available—although they are listed—on EThOS. See http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/electronicresources/theses.php
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) http://www.doaj.org/  Information about and links to almost 7,000 academic open access peer reviewed journals.
  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) http://www.doabooks.org/ New (April 2012) directory launching with 756 academic peer-reviewed books from 22 publishers.
  • OpenJ-Gate http://www.openj-gate.org/ Indexes articles from 7,300+ open access journals of which 4,300+ are peer reviewed.
  • Open Access Journals Search Engine http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=005943177783402775348%3A0jxffbisbzk A Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) which searches in Open Access Journals covering almost all subject areas from humanities to pure sciences.
  • OpenDOAR http://www.opendoar.org/ Directory of Open Access Repositories, now listing over 1,5oo repositories [Oct2009]
  • OpenDOAR search http://www.opendoar.org/search.php Uses a Google Custom Search Engine to search for the full-text of material held in open access repositories listed in the Directory.
  • Open Access Directory http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Main_Page a wiki full of data on open access including directories of data and disciplinary repositories.
  • JournalTOCs http://www.journaltocs.hw.ac.uk/ ‘…the largest, free collection of scholarly journal Tables of Contents (TOCs): 16,461 journals (including 2,163 Open Access journals) from 843 publishers.’


  • Web of Knowledge/Web of Science http://www.isiknowledge.com/ Another major bibliographic search engine. (NOTE: University subscribes to this service – off campus access via Raven password)
  • PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed A freely accessible (but academically excellent) digital repository and bibliographic search engine of over 20 million records from peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences journal literature. PubMed is run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Also there is PubMed Central, a subset of PubMed, with ~2 million full text records (12% are open access).
  • PubGet http://www.pubget.com Pubget indexes nearly 20 million life science research documents, including those in PubMed®. You search it by typing terms into the search field, a lot like you’d search PubMed or Google Scholar. The difference is Pubget gets you the PDF right away.’
  • Driver http://www.driver-community.eu/ search for academic research in European Open Access scientific publications.
  • Scirus http://www.scirus.com/ Publisher Elsevier’s free to use but excellent science biased search engine for peer-reviewed research.
  • BioMed Central http://www.biomedcentral.com/ Open access journal publisher specialising in bioscience journals (owned by Springer).
  • PhysMath Central http://www.physmathcentral.com/  Open access journal publisher specialising in physics and mathematics journals (owned by Springer).
  • Chemistry Central http://www.chemistrycentral.com/  Open access journal publisher specialising in chemistry journals (owned by Springer).
  • SpringerOpen http://www.springeropen.com/ New open access journal publisher to cover all Scientific/Technical/Medical subjects.
  • Public Library of Science (PLoS) http://www.plos.org/ Open access journal publisher specialising in science journals.
  • Open Biology http://rsob.royalsocietypublishing.org/ First open access journal from the Royal Society
  • CiteSeer http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/ ‘a scientific literature digital library and search engine that focuses primarily on the literature in computer and information science.’
  • ScienceResearch.com http://www.scienceresearch.com real-time’ and ‘deep web’ scientific search: free, publicly available deep web search engine that uses advanced federated search technology to return high quality results by submitting your search query – in real-time – to other well respected search engines then collating, ranking and dropping duplicates of the results.’

Arts and Humanities

  • JSTOR http://www.jstor.org/ Although a general journal article database, arts and humanities subjects are particularly well represented. (NOTE: The earlier published material is now freely available to all, but the more recent material requires a subscription. The University subscribes to this service – off campus access via Raven password)
  • JURN http://www.jurn.org/ A curated academic search engine covering over 4,000 free journals in the arts and humanities.

Universal’ UK academic library catalogue searches

  • Copac http://copac.ac.uk/ Copac is a freely available library catalogue, giving access to the merged online catalogues of members of the Research Libraries UK (RLUK) as well as increasing numbers of specialist libraries.’
  • SUNCAT http://www.suncat.ac.uk/ Serials Union Catalogue for the UK.  Serials’ holdings information from 80 UK academic libraries (including the British Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, some large Higher Education institutions and a number of specialist libraries) plus the Cooperative Online Serials (CONSER) database, ISSN register, and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). NOTE: despite the login page, no login is necessary!
  • SALSER http://edina.ac.uk/salser/ Serials catalogue for 11 Scottish academic and research libraries, the members of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL).

Ebook search

NOTE: These cover mostly out-of-copyright works. For recent in-copyright textbooks and texts pre 1800 please check the UL’s ebooks@cambridge portal.

  • ebooks@cambridge list of free ebook collections
  • Google books http://books.google.co.uk/ Millions of books scanned by Google’s ongoing book scanning project. Out of copyright works available full text. Effectively a full text search engine of 15 million books—but note that only out of copyright works allow full text to be displayed or downloaded. (15 million books is estimated by Google to be over 11% of all books ever published).
  • Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/ “Permanent free access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format […] includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages”. Digitized texts repository, now hosts over 1.6 million titles.
  • Digital Book Index http://www.digitalbookindex.org A search engine of digital book repositories (including Google books, Internet Archive, and many others). http://www.digitalbookindex.com/search001a.htm avoiding (free) registration
  • HathiTrust http://www.hathitrust.org/ Contains over 8.8 million full text titles (but only 2.2m are in the public domain). The collection is projected to hit 14 million by the end of 2012. It is mostly composed of books scanned by Google for various American university libraries but is increasingly gaining new members and strives to vastly improve the standard of metadata offered about its books compared to the rather dismal level of Google Books. If Google decides to ‘give up’ in the face of the many legal challenges obstructing its course, it may be HathiTrust that becomes the leading ebook scanning project. Latest PDF report.
  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) http://www.doabooks.org/ New (April 2012) directory launching with 756 academic peer-reviewed books from 22 publishers.
  • Scribd http://www.scribd.com/ online books and all kinds of other documents—anyone can upload/download (requires free registration)
  • The Open Library http://dev.openlibrary.org/ ‘A page for every book’: a publicly created and accessible online book catalogue with links to over 1 million full text works.
  • BookServer http://www.archive.org/bookserver A preliminary version of new service from the Internet Archive intending to become a comprehensive catalogue of ebooks (free and paid for) in any format. Currently searching only the Open Library.
  • The Online Books Page http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/archives.html A very comprehensive list of archives of ebooks on this page of the Online Books site.
  • Feedbooks http://feedbooks.com/ ‘On Feedbooks you’ll discover thousands of public domain books and original books from new authors that you can read on any mobile device’.

Secondhand/out of print book search

  • JustBooks/Bookfinder http://www.justbooks.co.uk/ Probably the most comprehensive new and secondhand book search engine.
  • Abebooks http://www.abebooks.co.uk The best known web marketplace of secondhand book dealers worldwide – ‘if it’s not here, it doesn’t exist’. Listings are included in JustBooks above.
  • Hive http://www.hive.co.uk/ new books online – support your local bookshops by buying through this site

Map search

  • Google maps http://maps.google.co.uk – also provides aerial/satellite images plus the excellent ‘street view’ of most areas.
  • Bing maps (Microsoft) http://maps.live.com – also provides aerial images plus ‘birds eye’ view for some areas (= aerial at an angle). Better satellite images than Google maps for some areas—try both. (Previously ‘Live maps’). Good feature: 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey maps at the appropriate magnifications.
  • Open Street Map http://www.openstreetmap.org/ Publicly created map made by contributors using GPS-equipped hardware. Free to use.
  • Old Maps Online http://project.oldmapsonline.org/ A gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution.
  • Locating London’s Past http://www.locatinglondon.org/ Search a wide body of digital resources relating to early modern and eighteenth-century London. Based on a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque’s 1746 map as well as an 19th century map and today’s Google Maps equivalent. Fascinating.

Music search

  • Musopen http://www.musopen.com/ an online music library of copyright free (public domain) music.
  • Naxos Music Library Full Naxos CD catalogue streamed at near CD audio quality. (NOTE: Subscription only subscribed resource provided by Homerton College Library—please ask for a password and link from our Librarian).
  • Petrucci Music Library http://imslp.org/wiki/ Free sheet music: “a virtual library containing all public domain music scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge.”

Video search

  • blinkx http://www.blinkx.com/ One of the most comprehensive video search sites
  • Google video search http://video.google.co.uk Of course Google features here as everywhere else! Good for (eg.) finding Shakespeare productions freely viewable online
  • VHX http://vhx.tv/VHX uses a brilliant, large display of high quality videos that you can easily “channel surf” with your keyboard. According to them, “VHX is the way you’re supposed to watch and share videos with friends. It brings online videos together into one streamlined watching experience and equips the community with the best possible curation tools.”

Image search

  • Flickr http://flickr.com/ Large database of user-uploaded images. Use the advanced search function to limit your search to creative commons licensed images, which are free to use (usually attribution is required, check the terms of the license for the individual images)
  • Pixabay http://pixabay.com/ Database of free images which can be used in presentations, blogs etc.
  • Photo Pin http://photopin.com/ Another site with lots of images which can be used freely.
  • Google Images https://www.google.com/imghp Probably the biggest image search tool, however be careful when using images found through Google in your presentations etc. Unless the creator of the image has specifically made them available for re-use then you will be breaching copyright by using them.

Alert services

One of the best ways to keep track of sites that are updated frequently, such as news sites or blogs, is by subscribing to the RSS feed of the site, using an RSS reader, for instance, Feedly or Netvibes. RSS readers allow you to receive new content from all of the sites you are interested in, as it is published, all in one place.

The following services are also invaluable web monitors:


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