20 September 2018
Russian research resources – digital and free. Open access, digitisation and beyond.
The world of electronic resources is ubiquitous and rapidly growing. It is hard to follow even for information professionals, as resources are presented on a variety of platforms, sites and in a variety of formats, with different conditions attached. Databases behind a paywall are available for consultation from the British Library computers in our reading rooms. Please remember to check the list of the databases and do not always rely on the title search in the catalogue – some platforms might bury their title lists so deeply that search engines cannot go down that far and deliver them for you. Please-please-please!!! check our list of databases and click on individual links to their titles if you are not quite sure whether you can find what you are looking for. Here is the most useful link for you.
We are working on making these resources available remotely to all our registered readers, but – bear with us – it is a mammoth job.
Meanwhile, I thought that I would compile a short list of free (most of them full-text, but not all) resources produced in Russia with Russian interfaces (most of them!) and aimed at Russian-speaking/reading researchers. Bearing all this in mind, I hope all Russian scholars might find them useful.
ELibrary is a wonderful resource. It’s like JSTOR in Russian. You can read about it here in English, but use the address with the Russian domain for searching. Registration is free, but mandatory if you would like to access even open access material. Open access articles will be available to download or view. Some materials are behind the paywall, but you can pay and download immediately. Others are only available for reference, but you will also get a lot of useful information about journals and serials. Some publications are in English, so searches in English will produce some results, but there is no translation or transliteration going on behind the scenes, if you search in English you will find only what was written in English.
CyberLeninka is a research resource based entirely on Open Access. Russian search engines (especially Yandex) can take you to articles collected by CyberLeninka, but you can also search directly within it. CyberLeninka also includes some research outputs in the languages of the countries from the former Soviet Union. English language search will pick up English language abstracts that some article might include.
Feb-web is focused of Russian Literature and folklore. This is a curated database of full-text digitised resources and include primary sources, such as collections of Russian classical authors published by academics (in many cases with commentaries, text variants, and supplements) as well as secondary sources, references and bibliographies. Research Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences also make some of their new and old publications (including journals) available via Open Access:
- Institute for Research in Slavonic and Balkan Studies
- Institute of Russian Literature
- Institute of World Literature
- Institute of Russian Language – publications and databases
- Institute of Information on Social Sciences
- Institute of Russian History
- Institute of economics
- Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology
Universities also have their repositories, so please do check their websites if you know where the author you are interested in works. The High School of Economics would probably be the only institution at present where one can find the interface in English, as well as quite a large proportion of English language articles, while links to some of them will lead you to familiar global publishers and databases, such as Springer or JSTOR, which might or might not require subscription or payment.
Zhurnal’nyi zal (‘Periodicals Reading Rooms’) – is a digital collection of periodicals, going back as far as the 1990s.
Another type of resource can be described as collections of digitised materials. Apart from big libraries that would digitise their collections (as obvious place to check, of course) or electronic libraries collected by various enthusiasts, I would like to name a couple of independent projects which you might want to keep in mind when doing research in primary sources:
- Digital Library of Historical Documents which is very useful for research of primary sources related to the Russian Empire in the early 20th century and the Russian Revolution period.
- The non-commercial Digital Library “ImWerden” which has a fairly random selection of texts, but very good for émigré Russian literature produced outside Soviet Russia and the USSR.
- My favourite is Prozhito (‘Lived Through’) – a growing collection of diaries digitised from publications and archival sources. This is a community and crowdsourcing project, but it is really amazing.
Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator East European Collections