Getting access to full-text articles legally.

For researchers, one of the main obstacles is getting access to full-text journal articles, unless you are attached to a well-established university where they have subscribed to the databases. There are various ways you could get access to the full-text articles. Up until recently, the advice that most lecturers give to their students is to write to the author to request for it. This is a very good method as most researchers will like to share their research findings and you also get a new connection with like-minded researchers.

Another way to get access is to the use of ResearchGate website to find the article and then download the article from the website or request from the author. Google Scholar is also a good method, search the title of the article with Google Scholar to find a pdf version of the article.

The easiest way currently available is to use ‘unpaywallextension/plugin in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. It is an online widget that trawls the Internet searching for free-to-read versions from more than 5,300 repositories worldwide, including preprint servers and institutional databases. Once you have installed in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox if a free-to-read full-text paper is available a green ‘unlock’ will be visible on the side of the browser. If the paper is not available then a grey ‘lock’ icon will be displayed.

The other way is the use of the EndNoteTM Click (Formerly Kopernio) plugin in Chrome which link to available full-text articles.

Written by Dr Victor Hoe (published on 15 August 2018, updated 02 December 2020)