Find an open access copy
Some authors may have already posted their articles open access (OA), either in a journal, in a repository, or on a personal webpage. It is worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is already online and free of charge:
Many open access repositories are indexed by Google Scholar. When a PDF is available, you’ll see an indication to the right of the article’s citation. You can also configure Google Scholar so that it connects to any journal that we have an active subscription to. To configure Google Scholar, see these instructions.
There are several browser extensions or plug-ins you can install that will search the internet for an open access version of a desired article.
- Open Access Button (OA Button): You can enter an article’s URL, DOI (a unique identifier), title, or other information to check for free and legal open access versions. The OA Button also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions. Once installed, these extensions will automatically search for an open access copy. When an open access copy is not found, the OA Button can contact the author directly.
- Unpaywall: You can either directly search Unpaywall’s database of millions of open access articles by entering the DOI for an article, or install the Chrome/Firefox browser extension, which will point you to open access versions of paywalled articles.
There are a number of repositories into which authors have deposited copies of their articles. Most repositories are well-indexed by Google Scholar, but searching the repository directly may reveal recently deposited research.
- UDSpace (UDelaware Institutional Repository)
- PubMed Central
- Open Science Foundation Preprints (searches multiple preprint services)
- arXiv (covers a wide range of disciplines in natural and social sciences)
- bioRxiv (Biology)
- CORE Repository (Humanities Commons)
- medRxiv (Health Sciences)
- RePEc (Economics and Related Sciences)
- SSRN (Social Science Research Network)
Note: The UD Library, Museums and Press do not endorse using Sci-Hub for article access.
Contact the author
Most publishers allow authors to responsibly share their own publications. Another way to get an article is by asking the author for a preprint. The author’s name, email, and institution (if available) are often shown on the preview page of the article, and may also be found in databases such as Web of Science or Scopus. The Open Access Button (see above) can also help you request an article directly from the author.
Some authors may share their papers through academic social networking sites, such as Academia.edu and ResearchGate. While you may be able to request access to an article through these, or share your own work on them, it’s important to understand the differences between academic social networking sites and repositories.
Get It! from the library
You can use the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service to request journal articles or other items that are needed for research but are not available in the library’s collections. Use Get It! links within library databases or Google Scholar to easily move a journal citation into an ILL request form. Or, if you have the article’s DOI, paste it into the form, and the rest will autocomplete. Average delivery time for articles is 2-3 days.
Need More Help?
If you’re having trouble finding an open access copy of an article or using the Interlibrary Loan service, library staff are available to help. For immediate help use the Ask the Library chat service or contact your subject librarian.