Picture of Sophia Conover
Sophia Conover
Sophia is a Research Librarian at the UCSF Library.

Open Access Discovery: Unpaywall.org

What is it?

Unpaywall is a web browser extension that scours the internet for a free, legal, and full-text version of that pesky paper you thought you couldn’t access. The software harvests thousands of institutional repositories, preprint servers, publishers, and websites like PubMed Central.

Head over to Unpaywall.org and click the green button, “Add to Chrome” or “Add to Firefox” to install the plugin for free.

free indication
A green unlocked padlock is the perfect icon to illustrate that the article is found!

Not Another Database

As Open Access (OA) advocates, UCSF Librarians love exploring tools that improve access to scholarly research. There have been several platforms over the last few years to support OA, but they were primarily databases. Unpaywall is different because it’s a browser extension. Available for Chrome or Firefox, Unpaywall’s extension is  convenient and can fit more easily into people’s workflows. 

Backed by Trends

Unpaywall claims to successfully find the article more than half of the time. The success rate will improve as academics publish in OA journals and share their articles in OA repositories. UCSF researchers are encouraged to share their articles in eScholarship as the UC Open Access Policy allows.