How to Use Unpaywall

Introduction |

Today I will walk us through how to use Unpaywall to access millions of Open Access copies of Paywalled Journal articles easily. Researching hers are often faced with the problem of how to search for articles and journals they wish to use in their works, more so now they have a huge number of paywall restricted and Open Access journal articles to search and select from. Libraries in developing countries are constrained by lack of funds, so subscriptions to scientific journals is almost non-existent and even where available, are not regular and also poorly maintained. Researchers in these countries are thus left with no other choice but to source alternatives.

The number of Open Access journal articles is fast increasing as more publishers embrace the concept of Open Access to scientific research articles. It would be a Herculean task for researchers to have to surf through thousands of publisher journals and millions of articles. While paywall restricted journal articles can be accessed through the infamous Sci-hub site (often dubbed as ‘Illegal’), Unpaywall boasts of offering ‘legal’ access to peer-reviewed journal articles. As of January 2019, Unpaywall has an open database of over 24 million journal articles.

How to use unpaywall
How to use unpaywall

How Does Unpaywall Work

Unpaywall works by harvesting full-text, free, and legal (fully authorized by the Journal Publishers) author-posted manuscripts from over 50 000 online Open Access Journals and repositories, such as Gold OA journals, Hybrid journals, University/institutional repositories, and disciplinary repositories, thus easing the process of finding and using such articles. It accesses data from PubMed Central, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Crossref and Datacite. It doesn’t access data from ‘illegal’ sites such as Libgen, Sci-hub and ResearchGate. 2 It offers an open invite to Journals and repositories who wish to apply to be added and indexed by Unpaywall. When a user browses to a Paywalled research article, Unpaywall checks to see if there is a free copy in its database. If it finds a free copy, it indicates by showing a green unlocked padlock key on the right side of the page.

How to Use Unpaywall

1. Visit the Unpaywall website with your Google Chrome browser.

How to use unpaywall
How to Use Unpaywall

2. Click on the “Get the Extension” link on the home page. This directs you to the Chrome Webstore. Click on the “Add to Chrome” link to install the Unpaywall extension on your browser. If you get a prompt notifying you that the Unpaywall browser extension will read contents, click to accept and permit the installation. After the successful installation of the browser extension, the Unpaywall icon appears in the bookmark region of the browser. For Chrome, this is on the left upper corner of the browser page, beside the address bar. Clicking on this Unpaywall icon shows three links- Instructions, Settings, and FAQ.

You can click on the “Settings” link to customize how your Unpaywall extension works. Click to select and check the “OA Nerd Mode” box. This enables Unpaywall to color-code the articles according to whether they are Green, Gold, or Bronze Open Access articles.

3. To use Unpaywall, visit the webpage of an article you wish to read or download. If the journal article is paywall restricted, Unpaywall will check its database to see if it has a free full text of the article available. If it finds such an article available in its database, a Green Unpaywall icon appears on the right-hand side of the browser page. Clicking on the Green icon redirects to a page where you can either read or download the free full-text of the journal article. If Unpaywall cannot find the article in its database, the Unpaywall icon appears Gray colored. If this is the case, you can read my article here on how to use sci-hub to get the full-text of such paywall restricted journal articles. Notice the notification in the red-colored box (indicating an article is not peer-reviewed) in the image below, and how Unpaywall flags such article, notifying you you are about reading an article that isn’t peer-reviewed.

This Post first was originally published on my deprecated blog-

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