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Alternative Access to Articles: Unpaywall Extension

This guide provides information about various types of browser plug-ins that may be helpful when accessing scholarly publications.
Last Updated: Mar 29, 2021 2:16 PM

Unpaywall logo

Unpaywall is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that points you to legal, author-posted manuscripts that are hosted on university and government web servers - usually versions that have been posted with the full and explicit authorization of the publishers themselves.

  • Unpaywall compiles one record for every article with a Crossref DOI (a DOI is a Digital Object Identifier, a unique long number that permanently identifies an article or document, and matches those DOIs to over 50,000 open access content sources).
    • For any given DOI, Unpaywall should know about any OA version that exists anywhere. A canonical reference paper (from PeerJ) describes the scale of open access. 
  • Unpaywall does not index articles in ResearchGate and Academia.edu (because of legal questions), or authors’ personal websites. 
  • You will see the Unpaywall "green tab" on about half of articles (if Unpaywall cannot find the full text, you will see a gray tab ).

Unpaywall laptop image

Unpaywall Extension: Installation

Unpaywall can be installed in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Follow these steps to install the Unpaywall plugin in Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
     Google Chrome shortcut picture
     
  2. In the Chrome window, type "unpaywall extension plugin" in the address bar and choose the third result, or if you have this guide open in Chrome.
     
  3. Click the "Add to Chrome" button in the upper right corner of the page: Add to Chrome button
     
  4. A small popup window will appear. Click the "Add Extension" button: Add Extension button 

    Note: The popup window explains that Unpaywall can "read and change all your data on the websites you visit". Unpaywall must be able to read the pages and change them to add download buttons. No data about you or your searches is tracked.  
     
  5. The plugin is now ready to use. You can close the window and proceed to browse normally. Instructions for using Unpaywall are in the box below, following the Firefox installation instructions.


 

To install in Mozilla Firefox, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox. 
    Firefox logo
     
  2. In the Firefox window, type "firefox unpaywall extension" in the address bar and choose the first result, or if you have this guide open in Firefox.
  3. Click the "Add to Firefox" button in the upper right corner of the page: Add to Firefox button
     
  4. A small popup window will appear. Click the "Add Extension" button: Add Extension Firefox button 

    Note: The popup window explains that Unpaywall can "read and change all your data on the websites you visit". Unpaywall must be able to read the pages and change them to add download buttons. No data about you or your searches is tracked.  
     
  5. The plugin is now ready to use. You can close the window and proceed to browse normally. Instructions for using Unpaywall are below.

Unpaywall Extension: Finding Full Text

Follow these steps to use the Unpaywall Extension plugin for finding articles:

  1. Search for journal articles as you normally would using Google Scholar or library databases.
     
  2. As you browse pages containing articles, Unpaywall will add a "tab" to the right side of your screen (circled in red in the image below) linking directly to PDF files. The tab will appear green if the full text is available. If the full text is not available openly, the tab will be grey.
    Unpaywall example screen shot
     
  3. In cases where a PDF is not available, Unpaywall will not appear. Please use UB Libraries Delivery+ service to request the item. 
     

If you have questions about LibKey Nomad or any other library tools, contact the library at library@buffalo.edu or by contacting your subject librarian directly.

Delivery+

Still hitting a paywall for article access? Don't pay!

If the article you need is not part of a UB subscription and is not available openly, use UB Libraries Delivery+ service to get the article. It's completely free for UB faculty, staff, and students! 

Simply log in with your UBIT name and password, then fill out a brief form for the item you need. Articles are delivered to you electronically!

Help

Still running into trouble? Contact your subject librarian for additional help. We are here to help!

Contact

Questions about the content of this Guide? Contact the Guide owner Erin Rowley at epautler@buffalo.edu