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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: Apr 5, 2024 2:30 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 (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 promo image

Unpaywall Extension: Installation

The Unpaywall extension can be installed for the following web browsers: Chrome or Firefox.

Unpaywall Extension: How to Use

Using Unpaywall Extension

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 or by contacting your subject librarian directly.


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!


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


Questions about the content of this Guide? Contact the Guide owner Erin Rowley at