Fed up with publisher paywalls? Here are some tools that can help!

Kyle Brady
Friday 15 March 2019

Publisher paywalls are an enduring phenomenon in scholarly publishing, and one that frustrates the research of the those without subscriptions and who cannot afford to pay the often unpalatable fees for access.


Luckily there are tools out there that can help. Rather than actually bypassing the paywall, the below services offer users an alternative product, often an earlier version held in a repository (like our own). These earlier versions are usually author accepted manuscripts that are near identical in their academic content to the final published version, but just lack branding, formatting, and final pagination.

The OA Button (available for most browsers)

OA Button. Using Firefox

The Button’s current incarnation allows users to find alternative open access versions at the touch of a button, and if there are no alternative versions available the Button will contact the author and request that they deposit the article in a repository. There are extensions for all the main Web browsers, and the Button is very unobtrusive too as it sits in the main Toolbar

The OA Button are also working closely with academic libraries to develop new technologies for enhancing Inter Library Loan. The project, called InstantILL, is currently being trialled at the University Indianapolis (IUPUI), but is already looking like it will be a very useful and powerful tool. We will be keeping an eye on this project as it develops.

Unpaywall (available for Firefox and Chrome

Unpaywall. Using Firefox

Much like the OA Button, the Unpaywall browser extension allows users to find free versions of articles at the click of a button. The Unpaywall database is very extensive, consisting of over 50,000 data sources including major indexes such as Crossref and DOAJ. The Unpaywall widget sits on the right side of the screen and is green when there is an open access version available.

The above tools are available to add to your browser, so why not add them now and try them out next time you come up against a paywall!

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