Questia Online Library


One of the first things I noticed when I came to the United States for my graduate education was the ubiquity of online resources. The Internet back home in India was still a novelty and its potential for educational resources was extremely limited.

Questia Online Library is an example of one such online library that gives you access to a large collection of books and journal articles in the fields of humanities and social sciences. The database also includes magazines and newspaper articles and is searchable by title, author, subject, and keyword.

One of the impressive options in Questia is the availability of online tools that enable users to create footnotes, bibliographical references, and hyperlinking across titles. I cannot overemphasize the importance of such tools that not only recreate the way you would use physical resources but also enhance your experience in using online tools in order to help you maintain a list of resources you accessed. One more additional feature that impressed me was the availability of more than 5000 books in online format. These books are public domain books whose copyright has expired hence are available to read for free in their entirety. No more buying expensive books or looking them up in libraries. You can use all the above mentioned reference tools in these books as well.

However, the flip side of availing of such resources is the paid subscription options. But, Questia makes it easy to subscribe and gives you options depending on your use. If you plan on using it regularly for your term papers and research projects, the best option is the annual subscription for nearly $100. If you want to use it for just 1-2 projects, you can choose the relatively less expensive options for a quarterly ($45) or monthly period ($20). Before you buy a subscription, I would advice you to check with your school or university if it has Questia included in its list of available online databases. If not, you can request your institution to add Questia to its list of databases. Finally, I have found references to online resources within Questia in other databases like ERIC (EBSCO) and Science Direct. I would like Questia to state which journals or books are exclusive to their service which gives me a better idea of deciding if I should subscribe. You can choose to avail of their free trial offer to look around and decide if it is a good match for your research needs.

Personally, I use Google Scholar after logging in through my university’s proxy server. This allows me to search for articles and books aided by Google’s superior search technology and the meta-description below every result shows me if the reference is available in my university library in full-text format or otherwise. It also allows me to import bibliographic information into Endnotes (BibTex or Refworks options are also available).

This is a paid review for Questia Online Library. I request you to check it out and I heartily recommend their service but beware of redundancy if you have access to other similar resources.