Leaving Vanderbilt does not mean the end of your access to high-quality research and other information. The following are a few ways to stay up to date once you are out of the Vanderbilt orbit.
1. Vanderbilt alumni library privileges. Once you are a Vanderbilt alum, you will still have access to the library buildings and collections. You will be able to check out books with a borrowing card (to be acquired from the Card Services office). You will also have access to select databases through an alumni account. (You can reauthenticate your VU ID here.) Alumni databases are listed here and include Academic OneFile, Project Muse, select Proquest ebooks, and Sage Books and Reference. Note that your undergraduate alma mater, or any other college or university you have attended, may also offer alumni access to library databases.
2. Public library subscriptions. You may be surprised by the breadth of your local public library’s database subscriptions. The Nashville Public Library, for example, provides access to several databases (many provided by Gale), though most of the material is more popular than scholarly. Also be sure you know how to access your local library’s collection of electronic books. Finally, although they usually keep quiet about it (because it can expensive), most public libraries do offer interlibrary loan services for books that are not held in their collection.
3. Local colleges. Many colleges, especially state colleges, grant book borrowing privileges to residents within a certain geographical area. For example, MTSU has a community borrowing account, as does TSU, for those with a TN driver’s license.
4. Open access journals (and books). Although most journals require subscriptions, whether institutional or personal, for access, there are a growing number that offer open, or free, access. One way to find and search open access journals is through the Directory of Open Access Journals, which indexes more than 11,000 titles. (There is also a Directory of Open Access Books.) Still more comprehensive is the UK site CORE, which also includes material from institutional repositories (see number 12 below) and much else. The Public Library of Science is perhaps the most well known open-access publisher of scientific literature. Nature also publishes open access journals, including Science of Learning.
5. Preprint servers. Preprint servers are sites where researchers share their articles before the articles have been peer reviewed and published. There are many of these servers. ArXiv, for quantitative sciences, is the best known. You might try bioRxiv for biology research, SocArXiv for social sciences (including education), or PsyArXiv for psychology. A full list is here.
6. Journal subscriptions. Personal subscriptions to journals, whether in print or online, are also available, and sometimes for reasonable rates, especially when they are part of a membership in a society. For example, membership in the Society for Research in Child Development gives you a discounted subscription to the journal Child Development. Some journals, such as Child Development Perspectives, publish shorter "review" articles and are good ways to stay in the know.
7. Books. Books are still published, good ones too. You might find it useful to keep tabs on a few publishers, such as Brookes, Guilford Press, Jessica Kingsley, American Printing House for the Blind, Pro-Ed, Routledge's Psychology or Education series, or the National Academies Press, as well as the publishing arms of organizations such as the Council for Exceptional Children. (A good way to search local libraries for a copy of a book is WorldCat.)
8. Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a good first stop for your research. As you search for articles, look for those with links on the right-hand side of the page.
9. PubMed Central. PubMed Central is the open-access portion of PubMed. The articles contained therein are typically those supported by grants from the federal government. Either search PubMed Central at the link above, or make a general PubMed search (preferably using the MeSH subject vocabulary); then, on the results page, click on “Full Text” or "Free Full Text" on the left-hand column. You can also set up alerts on PubMed: After you make a productive search, click “Create alert” or “Create RSS” near the top of the page to be notified when an article is published that falls within your search.
10. Free ERIC. The Education Resources Information Clearinghouse (ERIC) collects and catalogs education-related articles and reports. Check the box “Full text available on ERIC” when making your search. You can use ERIC’s subject terms to aid in your search.
11. Tennessee Electronic Library. Tennessee provides some electronic resources, including many Gale databases, to Tennessee residents through the Tennessee Electronic Library. Your home state may do the same.
12. Institutional repositories. Many universities have institutional repositories that hold faculty-published papers (often preprints/postprints), in addition to dissertations and other material from the college or university community. (Vanderbilt’s institutional repository is here.) The website OpenDOAR has a list of these repositories; search them using CORE. Note that Google Scholar also searches most institutional repositories.
13. Journal websites. Find journals that hit directly on your interest and check their websites. They will occasionally publish or prepublish free articles. Many journals can send you email alerts when they publish new articles.
14. Child Care and Early Education Research Connections. This terrific website collects high quality, freely available research related to child care and early education. You can search it by subject or keyword. It also provides links to large datasets, as well as helpful guidance on interpreting research.
15. What Works Clearinghouse. What Works Clearinghouse, from the Institute of Education Sciences, analyzes, assesses, and reports on education research. Their reports are very useful for getting your head around the relevant research on a topic and for honing your skills in assessing study design and quality.
16. Government literature and other gray literature. Gray (or grey) literature refers to materials not published through the usual academic or commercial channels--materials that are in a "gray" area between scholarly journals or books and the popular press. This includes reports from government agencies and other nonprofits, as well as unpublished material from colleges and universities. The best source for U.S. government reports on child welfare and development is the Administration for Children and Families; see also the NIH publications list. The National Center for Education Statistics is the main source for data on U.S. education. (A guide to education data sources is here.) Many NGO sites can be searched from the Godort portal. OpenMD and MedNar focus on medical gray literature. As noted Core is a very comprehensive site for gray literature.
17. RSS Readers. An RSS reader is a great way to follow your favorite blogs, newspapers, magazines and journals on a single page. There are lots of free ones available; search the web for them and try one out.
18. DeepDyve. For $49 a month, DeepDyve offers access to thousands of peer-reviewed articles, with restrictions (e.g., no downloading pdfs). This is really the only true replacement for access through an institutional affiliation.
19. APA Divisions. The American Psychological Association has (at last count) 54 divisions—member-organized interest groups that may publish newsletters, hold conventions, and otherwise disseminate useful information on psychological topics. Many of the divisions touch on child development.
20. Professional Organizations. See the list on this page. And remember, professional organizations often publish books, journals, and newsletters you will find useful.
21. Social media. Follow your favorite researchers or organizations on Twitter, Facebook, Mendeley, etc.