The online universe has a wealth of information for anyone who is willing to dig around, but all information is not created equal. Finding a source you can trust requires more effort. Whether you are doing professional research in that field, or looking for help to produce your own paper, the key is find the highest quality work that is available online.
Fortunately, most major universities allow Masters and PhD candidates to upload their completed theses and dissertations. It is usually required for Masters candidates but optional for PhDs. They are available to read for anyone who has internet access, so these depositories are a fantastic resource - trustworthy and also free of charge.
Depending on your field of study, you will want to search those institutions that are known as the best in that field. For example, Sociology papers at University of Iowa, Music Theory at Indiana University, Economics at University of Chicago, or Political Science at Brown University, to name a few.
Don’t limit yourself to universities in the U.S. either. Many university faculties around the globe have similar arrangements, like the London School of Economics, Warwick University in England, University of Melbourne in Australia, and Universitat Politecnica of Valencia.
There are also websites specifically designed to compile and search for research papers. Some are free, like OATD, but some are indexes or search engines that list what has been published, electronically or otherwise. They can be a bit clunky to use, unless you are looking for a specific paper or just a sample of one that was published.
A great source for truly top-notch papers, including those that have won national awards and recognition, is research foundations. These associations and organizations provide access to scholarly works at no cost. A short list includes, but is not limited to, the following:
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