One of the great things about doing an academic qualification through a major institution like the University of Manchester is the access you get to scientific literature.
A huge number of research papers are locked away behind paywalls. Sites like Google Scholar can show you what’s out there, but you’ll only be able to see abstracts for most of it. To get at the good stuff, you’ll be paying tens of poinds Sterling. That doesn’t sound like much, but to do a reasonably rigorous literature search you’d need to access lots of them. I’ve probably read a few dozen papers now that are related to my project, and many that weren’t – which would have been annoying if I’d paid for them individually. I expect there must be ways to pay for bulk access, but there are also many different sources you might need to get that access with too.
It seems like a shame this information needs to be locked away but of course it’s additional revenue for some organisation – hopefully the money goes back into supporting research and researchers.
The breadth and depth of research going on out there on every conceivable topic is astonishing. Getting access to all that stuff is a definite plus.