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Research Tools & Tips
Technology-based tips for leveraging the tools in the library and databases
As students of a higher education institution, you have access to a wide variety of content that may not otherwise be freely available. Even items that are not immediately available in the library collection can be provided to you via interlibrary loan free of charge. Unfortunately, due to the nature of database platform pricing, the library is often unable to provide access to content post graduation (though we do offer some services to alumni).
That being said, there is a growing movement in publishing called Open Access (OA). Open Access is a movement, primarily within academia, to make scholarly publishing more freely available. The goal is to remove barriers to information based on cost to the user.
There are several tools that exist to help researchers find and access OA content across the web, both while in school and beyond. We've highlighted a couple of our favorites below.
To read more about information privilege and the impact it has on scholarly communication, please see our guide:
Unpaywall finds the kind of articles you'd see in peer-reviewed scholarly journals like Science or PLOS One, plus pre-publication versions of similar work from preprint repositories like arXiv. Specifically, it looks for articles with a kind of identifier called a DOI. Although the best-known type of paywall is the kind in front of a newspaper or magazine article you want to read, Unpaywall doesn't help with sites like nytimes.com or washingtonpost.com. They do not harvest from sources of dubious legality like ResearchGate or Sci-Hub.
OA Button sources include all of the aggregated repositories in the world, hybrid articles, open access journals, and those on authors personal pages. They don't use content from ResearchGate or Academia.edu. When an article isn’t freely available they ask the authors to share it by putting it into a repository. They help authors share quickly, legally, and widely.