Unpaywall: Accessing open access articles made easy

Unpaywall, an extension for Chrome or Firefox, is an online tool that finds free-to-read versions of paywalled papers in preprint servers and institutional databases.

Unpaywall, launched unpaywallApril 4, 2017, displays a green or grey tab on the side of the
screen when you arrive at an article you are told to pay to read (behind a paywall). The green “unlock” icon signals that there is an free version of the article available while the grey “lock” icon means that Unpaywall was unable to find a free version of the article.

Another useful feature of Unpaywall is that it can tell users whether an article is green or gold OA. By selecting the “color-code tab for green and Gold OA” in extension settings you will see either

  • Gold unlock tabs meaning articles are available from the publisher under and open license or
  • Green unlock tabs meaning articles are on a preprint server or institutional repository.

openaccessUnpaywall is similar to Open Access Button extension, a tool that finds free, legal research articles and data instantly or to automatically send a request to authors. Unpaywall claims to be more focused on a streamlined seamless process for finding free content. Both of these tools are open-source and free which means that you can use both simultaneously.

Unpaywall is a project of the non-profit organization Impactstory funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Their aim is to make science more open and reusable online.

For more information about open access publishing and accessing open access publications, visit this Open Access Publishing libguide, watch this video or book an appointment with a health sciences librarian today!

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