OA Week 2018: Emphasis on Access

With a name like open access, it goes without saying that accessing scholarly literature is not just an important piece of OA initiatives, but a primary goal.

One popular method of ensuring access to open materials has been through the utilization of institutional repositories. Institutional repositories are “digital collections capturing and preserving the intellectual output of a single or multi-university community” (The Case for Institutional Repositories: A SPARC Position Paper).

You may have heard about UT’s very own institutional repository, Texas ScholarWorks, which turned 10 years old this year. (They sure do grow up fast.) However, you may not have known that a majority of universities have their very own repositories, and they are also full of open scholarly resources.

In the past, there has been no way for users to search across these repositories simultaneously, making it difficult for researchers to locate materials posted outside of their own institution’s repository. A new tool, Unpaywall, is quickly breaking down this barrier to access. “Unpaywall is a free web-browser extension that hunts for papers in more than 5,300 repositories worldwide, including preprint servers and institutional databases” (Unpaywall finds free versions of paywalled papers).

Available as both a web search and a browser extension, Unpaywall makes it possible for individuals to quickly and easily locate free versions of scholarly articles legally hosted in institutional and organizational repositories. When using the Unpaywall browser extension, users viewing an article with a paywall will see a green or orange open lock graphic on the right-hand side of their screen if an open access version of the text is available. Clicking the lock graphic will take users directly to the open access content.

With planned Zotero and Scopus integrations in the works, Unpaywall is rapidly increasing the visibility of open scholarship hosted in institutional repositories and allowing researchers unaffiliated with an institution to access significantly more materials without hitting a paywall.


A comprehensive listing of repositories is searchable on OpenDOAR, a global directory of open access repositories.

Unpaywall’s repository source list is searchable and downloadable from their website.