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Bypass paywalls with these legit tools

28 Mar

Image from Unpaywall showing science article for purchase with price marked out and FREE written over it.Have you found a science journal article but hit a paywall that prompts you to pay $30+ for the article?

The article may be available in Science Direct (we have on-campus access @ MLWGS), Explora, PowerSearch, or if it’s 5+ years old, JSTOR. Passwords and JSTOR access instructions are in the Student Information Course in itslearning under Resources.

However, if you can’t find it in one of those databases, try a tool that searches legitimate Open Access (OA) repositories for a copy of the article. This won’t work every time, but when it does, it’s fantastic.

Open Access Button – paste the article’s URL, DOI (Digital Object Identifier), PMID, title, or citation into the search box OR install the Chrome extension. If it’s NOT available, it will facilitate asking the author to upload a copy to a legit OA repository. Do you have a list of article DOI’s for which you’d like to find a full-text version? Try their OASheet option (requires email address).

Unpaywall (pictured above) – Install the Chrome extension and when you’re on a web page for an article with a DOI, a padlock will display on the right of your screen: gray if an OA version is NOT available; green if one IS available. Click on the green padlock to go to the OA version. Do you have a list of article DOI’s for which you’d like to find a full-text version? Try their Simple Query tool (requires email address).

What about Google Scholar, you ask?  Those search results mix OA and paywalled sources which can slow you down. If you hit a journal paywall in your Google Scholar results, try the tools above.

Two limitations of these cool tools:

  • They usually don’t work for journals in the humanities (literature, history, etc.)
  • They usually don’t work for book chapters, only journals (however, sometimes you may find that a book chapter was first published as a journal article)

That said, they can improve your research experience and efficiency in science!

 
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