Your Open Access – discovery

Kyle Brady
Wednesday 25 October 2017

It might be Open, but can you find it?

OA Button logo

The theme of this year’s Open Access Week ‘Open in order to…’ aims to recognise the concrete benefits of open access, encouraging examples of how openness can increase visibility of research and enable the widest possible audience to benefit from scholarship. Events are being held around the world, and we plan to share some user stories in our next post.

We have already posted about the usage of content from the St Andrews Research Repository. In this post we consider how open access publications can be found and take a brief look at some tools available to aid discovery.

Repository visibility

Repositories are designed to ensure their content can be found by search engines, indexed in services such as Google Scholar and harvested by platforms such as CORE, Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), OAISTER  and OpenAIRE. Good quality metadata and shared standards make these platforms powerful discovery options.

Try searching these platforms:


Your Open Access content can be found in these search services – make sure to deposit in Pure in order for your research to be open and discoverable.

See results from BASE for content from St Andrews Research Repository

Discovery tools

What else is being developed to aid discovery? The 2 tools below are designed to work exactly at the point you have found an article, and are faced by a paywall. With these tools installed, instead of having to leave the journal site and perform another search, you can get straight to a free-to-read version.

Unpaywall – made by Impactstory and powered by

The Unpaywall plugin will work behind the scenes while you are viewing the abstract of an article, and you can set it to show green or gold open padlocks to indicate when the tool has found an OA version. As a fairly new tool it is not perfect, so you won’t always get results. But given you don’t have to do anything extra once it is installed, what’s not to like?

Example of Unpaywall identifying an OA version of an article I would otherwise need to pay/subscribe to access:

 Click on the open green padlock, and the article is available in PMC:

Get Unpaywall at

OA Button – searching for access

Using a combination of searches, the goal of OA Button is to link researchers directly to free, legal full text. The tool goes a step further than providing access, creating a request to authors if a source can’t be found, with guidance on sharing with you. The OA Button tool uses a few different sources to search for an OA version, so may take a little longer to work but tends to have higher success than Unpaywall.

Example of the OA Button installed as a bookmark working to find an OA version:

The article found in St Andrews research Repository:

Get OA Button at

Library Collections

Open Access material needs to be considered as part of managed Library collections – just because content hasn’t gone through an acquisitions process doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ensure it is presented to users in whatever context it is relevant. This means including repository content in discovery solutions and making sure that fully OA journals are visible through the Library catalogue to be discovered alongside subscribed content.

The University of St Andrews Library Discovery Service SEEKER includes content from our research repository:

By including the Directory of Open Access Journals as a source, SAULCAT can easily include fully OA journals – see 9953 journals from DOAJ indexed by SAULCAT

DOAJ can also be search natively for individual articles as well as journals:

As tools mature further, Your Open Access content will be increasingly discoverable. Already, over 50% of recent publications by St Andrews researchers are available Open Access. These can be found on the University’s Research Portal, and hopefully the tools described here will help them be discovered through other routes as well.

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Phone: 01334 468851(OA) / 01334 462343(RDM)