Efficient research

Top 4 free online databases for researching on economics

Every researcher needs an online database with open access journals and books, but economic researchers need much more than that. They need updated statistics, regulations, and continuous changes in global markets. That is why this post list of top 4 free online databases to support science researches on economics. No matter if you are an economic researcher, specialist, or just a normal person caring about economic issues, this list is a valuable asset for you.

IMF eLibrary

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) eLibrary is a comprehensive source of research and statistics with publications in multiple digital formats including the IMF’s periodicals, books, working papers and studies, and data and statistical tools. The research and analysis from the IMF’s respected authors put cutting-edge research material at your fingertips. The extensive archive provides a unique perspective on finance, trade, globalization, and other current issues.

Since January 1, 2020, all IMF digital publications are FREE. All users can have access to more than 21,000 publications and an archive that dates back to 1946.

Figure 1. Interface of IMF eLibrary
Figure 1. The interface of IMF eLibrary

With IMF eLibrary, it can be easy to browse full-text data and access various statistical databases. Besides, the breadth of information is accessed in an integrated environment supported by flexible, user-friendly navigation and intuitive search. Following that, easy search and browse options including browse by date, topics, countries, or series help surface major new releases, historical information, and recommended reading (figure 1). Users can read online, download, print, and share information.

Apart from eLibrary, IMF also provides a huge resource of updated data that delivers the most authoritative economic reporting from most countries. IMF data include many additional valuable data sets and all the supporting manuals and guides for statistical content. A few of the popular data sets include balance of Payments Statistics, coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS), currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER), International Financial Statistics, World Economic Outlook, and so on.

For more information, you could download the IMF eLibrary brochure.

World Bank Databases

World Bank (WB) is the largest single source of development knowledge with a huge amount of databases in different digital forms that support different purposes. Accordingly, they provide four sources of the database. The first one is the World Bank eLibrary which is a subscription-based website for academic institutions, international and governmental agencies, central banks, think tanks, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organizations.

However, to encourage innovation and allow anyone in the world to use Bank knowledge to help improve the lives of those living in poverty, the WB provides the other three sources of databases including the World Bank open knowledge repository, the World Bank open data, and the World Bank documents & reports (D&R) that are free for users to share and download.

The World Bank Open Knowledge Repository

The World Bank Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) is The World Bank’s official open access repository for its research outputs and knowledge products.

The OKR is built on DSpace, the open-source platform heavily used in the open-access community, powering over 2,000 open repositories, and is interoperable with other repositories. Since its launch in 2012, millions of publications have been downloaded from the OKR, and nearly half of its users are in developing countries. The OKR was named one of ALA RUSA’s “Best Free Reference Web Sites of 2013” and thanks to the OKR, the World Bank received the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition (SPARC) “Open Access Innovator” award in 2012.

The OKR contains thousands of research works including World Bank Group Annual Reports and Independent Evaluation Studies, all World Development Reports (WDRs) plus recent WDR background papers; Economic and Sector Work (ESW) studies—a series of analytical reports prepared by Bank staff. ESWs gather and evaluate information about a country’s economy and/or a specific sector; The latest Country Opinion Surveys are done in client countries for feedback on World Bank Group activities and many other qualified research works.

Figure 2. The Interface of free online databases_The World Bank Open Knowledge Repository
Figure 2. The Interface of The World Bank Open Knowledge Repository

The OKR is designed for optimal use in areas with low bandwidth or mobile devices. PDF file sizes have been reduced to reduce download time and the site automatically adapts to the mobile device of the user for easier navigation and access to content.

Besides, finding content in the OKR is quick and easy. Users can browse World Bank content by Collections, Authors, Release Dates, Topics, and Title (figure 2) or experience “Advanced Search” with searching metadata such as title, abstracts, keywords, and so on.

World Bank’s Open Data

World Bank Open data is a great place for timely and reliable statistical data. The World Bank’s Open Data initiative is intended to provide all users with access to World Bank data, according to the Open Data Terms of Use. The data catalog is a listing of available World Bank datasets, including databases, pre-formatted tables, reports, and other resources.

This online database provides some of the tools that governments will need to take the first steps in an Open Data initiative. It is intended for public sector managers and staff who have been tasked with coordinating or organizing an Open Data initiative.

Much of the data comes from the statistical systems of member countries, and the quality of global data depends on how well these national systems perform. The World Bank works to help developing countries improve the capacity, efficiency, and effectiveness of national statistical systems.

Documents and reports of World Bank

The Documents & Reports (D&R) site is an official disclosure mechanism for the World Bank Group’s final reports. The repository contains official documents and reports which are made available to the public in accordance with the Bank’s Access to Information Policy to better share the institution’s knowledge base.

The D&R site contains final and official documents and reports from 1946 through the present, including Board Documents (items concerning meetings of the Executive Directors); Country Focus (strategic priorities and directions for lending activities); Economic and Sector Work (in-depth background studies); Project Documents (loan/credit related documents released to the public according to the project cycle, including legal agreements); Publications and Research (formal publications, working papers and informal series from departments around the WBG).


RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in 102 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics and related sciences. The heart of the project is a decentralized bibliographic database of working papers, journal articles, books, books chapters and software components, all maintained by volunteers. The collected data are then used in various services that serve the collected metadata to users or enhance it.

So far, over 2,000 archives from 102 countries have contributed about 3.5 million research items from 3,600 journals and 5,300 working paper series. Over 62,000 authors have registered and 80,000 email subscriptions are served every week.

The following are some of the online databases that use and contribute RePEc data, which you can visit and discover:

IDEAS: IDEAS/RePEc is the largest bibliographic database dedicated to Economics and is available freely on the Internet. You can browse on IDEAS by serial, by classification, by the author to reach your search.

EconPapers: Economics at your fingertips. EconPapers provides access to all of RePEc. Browsing and searching available.

EDIRC: Directory of Economics institutions, with links to their members and publications listed on RePEc


The United Nations iLibrary is the comprehensive global search, discovery, and viewing source for digital content created by the United Nations. Initially launched in 2015, the UN iLibrary was updated in December 2020 to incorporate new features such as an interface in all six official UN languages and a search feature by Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations iLibrary offers an extensive list of features that deliver flexibility, speed, and efficiencies such as intuitive navigation, integrated search results, granular content, citation tool, DOI identification, and multilingual content.

Figure 3. Interface of The United Nations iLibrary
Figure 3. The interface of The United Nations iLibrary

This database provides approximately 9000 titles with about 500 new titles added every year with approximately 70% of which are in English and cover the following topics:  Economic and Social Development, Environment and Climate Change , International Trade and Finance, Agriculture Rural Development, and Forestry  and so on.

The content on this online database is organized by series title, publication year, and alphabetically (figure 3). It is easy for users to search and discover complete publications or even their components – chapters and articles in different formats – PDF, ePub, accessible ePub, and READER –whether for reading on a mobile device, sharing with peers via social networks, or integrating content in a report.

Hopefully, this list helps you have more references in terms of free online databases for your upcoming researches on economics.

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