Knowing where to start with sifting through all the openly available content online can be a challenge, particularly when you are seeking academic content. This section of the libguide provides guidance on the main resources to explore and tools to utilise if you are seeking legitimately available open access content online.
Please note: To check whether the contents of a particular journal are available through our University subscriptions, it is always advisable to check the library catalogue, Locate. Guidance on using Locate is available on a separate LibGuide.
A useful first port of call when searching for Open Access Journals is the DOAJ. Journals added to the DOAJ are vetted to ensure that they are fully Open Access publications and meet various other standards and criteria. This helps to exclude publishers and journals deemed to be 'predatory' (those which misrepresent themselves and fail to provide the basic functions expected of a reputable journal)..
Journals can be filtered based on subject discipline and many of the publications indexed also support article level searches within DOAJ. Please note that the DOAJ is not exhaustive in documenting every Open Access journal in operation, but it provides the most comprehensive listing which presently exists.
Open Access Books (also known as Open Access Monographs) have taken longer to get off the ground than open access to journal articles. However, there are increasing factors driving open access to full length academic publications.
The DOAB indexes open access books produced by a variety of different publishers which meet relevant academic and peer review standards.
Please note Open Access Books are typically free to read and download in electronic form, with the option of paying for a print version.
Unpaywall is a browser extension which indicates whether there is an open access version of a publication available.
When you visit an article on a publisher's platform, the Unpaywall icon which will display on the right hand side of your browser will turn green if it detects access is covered by a subscription or if there is an open access version available on a repository system. Clicking the green Unpaywall icon will then link through to the available version it has found.
If Unpaywall cannot detect that the article is covered by a subscription and cannot locate an openly available version then it will display a grey lock symbol.
Within settings Unpaywall also provides an 'OA Nerd Mode' function. This will display whether an article is 'Gold', meaning the final published version is available; 'Green', meaning the accepted manuscript version is available; or 'Bronze', meaning the published version is available on a temporary short-term basis.
Open Access Button works by the title, weblink or citation of an article being entered into its search function. It will then scour online repository systems to see if there is an open access version available somewhere and link you through to it. If an article is not available open access a request can be initiated of the author through the website.
Core is an aggregated repository, pulling in content from institutional repositories around the world, with over 10,000 repositories and journals providing data.
The system also supports searching by 'keywords' if there isn't a specific publication you are looking for but want to see what literature on a subject is openly accessible.
A free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature overseen by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine. Predominantly indexes fully Open Access articles, but also includes deposition of some accepted manuscripts where the final publication is behind a subscription access paywall.
PubMed Central is associated with PubMed, a major database of citations and abstracts for biomedical and life sciences literature.
SciELO indexes open access journals, predominantly from South America where there is a strong tradition of open access journals run by University libraries and not for profit publishing. Some content is in English, though there is also a large amount of Spanish and Portuguese language content as a result of SciELO's coverage.
In some academic disciplines it is commonplace for 'pre print' versions, typically manuscripts which have not yet been subject to formal peer review which may or may not have been submitted to a journal for consideration, to be hosted on subject repositories.
ArXiv is one of the biggest and most long standing of these platforms, hosting pre-prints from Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and associated disciplines.
BioRxiv hosts pre-prints from the Biosciences, and several other subject repositories are hosted via the Open Science Foundation, among them PsyArXiv which hosts Psychology pre-prints and PaleorXiv for Paleontology.
Do be mindful that content found on repositories such as these won't generally have been through a formal peer review process, and that some pre-print systems apply more stringent criteria as to the content they host than others.
A service operated by the British Library, EThOS is the go to place to check for Doctoral level theses produced within UK Universities. Many theses are electronically available to download from EThOS (a free to set up EThOS account will be required), older theses can have a digitisation request made on them through the EThOS system. Please note that some Universities cover the costs associated with having a digitisation produced, others pass on the cost to the individual making the request.
Many Universities will also host electronic theses on their own repository systems. Content not indexed by EThOS, such as Masters Research theses, may be available here. A useful place to search for institutional repository systems is the ROAR registry.