Unpaywall finds free versions of paywalled papers

08.08.2017

A new tool joins a growing collection of software for accessing fee-for-view scientific literature.

An online widget that trawls the Internet searching for free-to-read versions of paywalled papers has been installed more than 10,000 times since its prerelease debut on 10 March, its inventors say.

Officially launched on 4 April, Unpaywall is a free web-browser extension that hunts for papers in more than 5,300 repositories worldwide, including preprint servers and institutional databases.

Once installed in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, Unpaywall brings up a green or grey tab on the side of the screen when a user hits a paywalled paper. A green ‘unlock’ sign means that a free version of the paper is available elsewhere, whereas a grey ‘lock’ icon means that the tool could not locate a free version.

For researchers and librarians (and journalists*), Unpaywall and a growing collection of similar tools promise to simplify the process of finding freely accessible (and legal) copies of research articles.

(* editor’s note)

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