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Open Access

This guide provides an overview of Open Access and related issues.

Finding and Using Open Access Materials

Open Access materials can be used to further your own research and adopted for use as teaching materials. While many OA resources can be found using traditional search strategies, you can also take advantage of some excellent resources designed specifically to locate open materials. 

Avoiding Paywalls

Paywalls prevent researchers from getting immediate access to scholarly works to which they do not have subscription access. While the WVU Libraries provide fast access to these materials through Interlibrary Loan services, waiting for them to arrive can disrupt your research process. Fortunately, there now exist some excellent resources for getting faster, legal access to paywalled materials. 

  • Unpaywall is a browser extension that harvests content from over 50,000 journals and open access repositories. When you encounter a paywalled article, Unpaywall will will display a green "unlock" icon to indicate when a free-to-read version is available elsewhere. Clicking on the icon will take you to the free version. If a grey "lock" icon is displayed, this indicates that Unpaywall could not locate a free version. 
  • Open Access Button is another browser extension that is similar to Unpaywall. In addition to using the extension, you also have the option of entering an article URL, DOI, PMID, PMC ID, Title, or Citation into a search bar on the Open Access Button homepage. If the tool is unable to find a free version, it has a built in feature that allows you to request a copy from the author. 
  • Google Scholar indexes open access journals and repositories, and can be used to find free versions of paywalled papers. 

Sources for Open Access Materials

  • arXiv is housed at Cornell University and contains papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics.
  • bioRxiv is modeled after arXiv and serves as a pre-print server for papers in biology and related fields
  • RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is a decentralized database of working papers, journal articles, book chapters, and other works in economics and related disciplines. 
  • SSRN (formerly Social Science Research Network) is a repository for research in the social sciences and humanities. It was purchased by Elsevier in 2016. 
  • PubMed Central is an open access repository of biomedical and life sciences research hosted by the National Library of Medicine. 
  • CORE: Open Access for the Humanities is an interdisciplinary repository for humanities research maintained by Humanities Commons. 
  • OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories) is a searchable database of disciplinary and institutional repositories. 
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.  
  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) is a searchable index of peer-reviewed, open access books. 
  • OAPEN contains freely accessible academic books, focusing on humanities and social sciences.