Finding Open Access Content

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It can be hard to keep up with the changing landscape of Open Access publishing. Promising front runners have disappeared and new products have risen to the top of the heap. This post will try to capture the current state of play for researchers trying to find Open Access resources.



Unpaywall boasts a database of metadata for over 22 million Open Access articles. Most researchers access the Unpaywall database using browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. For researchers, perhaps the most important valuable part of Unpwaywall is that the site includes a simple query engine that allows you to find an Open Access version of up to 10,000 articles at once. This replaces the API.


Kopernio bills itself as providing fast, one-click access to millions of research papers. Owned by Clarivate, Kopernio allows researchers to find both OA content and articles available only through their institutional subscriptions. Kopernio’s main product is currently a free Firefox plug-in. However, Kopernio aims to be much more than simply a provider of one-click solutions. The compnay has a new product called Kopernio Premium. Subscribers gain a 2GB storage space (locker) for their PDFs (mirrored in Dropbox) and a .bib bibliography file describing all PDFs in their locker. However, Kopernio seems to believe that the most exciting part of Kopernio Premium is the capacity for users to tags the PDFs in your locker easier and quicker.

Lazy Scholar

Lazy Scholar is similar to Kopernio in that it offers free browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These allow researchers to find both Open Access content and articles available through their institution’s subscriptions. It also provides citation metrics, references in over 900 citation styles and tools to quickly identify papers of interest. Lazy Scholar will also try to extract references, PICO information on evidence-based medical practice and other data from PDFs.


Dimensions provides linked research data, including details of publications, research funding, patents and clinical trials, as well as journal articles. Dimensions is designed to help researchers understand what is going on in their research area and therefore aims to provide an alternative to established tools such as SciVal or Incites. Unlike its rivals, Dimensions has a free version.

Open Access Button

The Open Access Button site has a search box which allows you to find an OA version of an article using the article’s URL, DOI, PMID ID, title or citation. As you might expect, Open Access Button also provides a free browser extension.


— By Cameron Barnes, Library Discovery and Web Services Administrator

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