Easily search for Open Access research papers with the Unpaywall add-on tool

As a researcher we have all run into a paywall at some point while searching for literature. With the new add-on tool Unpaywall, you can easily search for a legal Open Access version of the paper.

06/01/2017 | 1:10 PM

When running into a paywall, the only options were usually to personally request the author to share a pdf with you, to e-mail colleagues at other universities to check if they might have access, or to just pay up. But there is a new, safe and legal Open Access option; Unpaywall.

Unpaywall is an add-on tool  for your webbrowser, Chrome or Firefox, that will automatically search a variety of databases for legally available Open Access pdfs, based on the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) – a unique number assigned to a journal article– of the paper you are looking for. These databases could e.g. be university repositories like our own VU and VUmc repositories, researcher’s personal webpages or publisher’s archives. A color-coded link appears in the webpage scrollbar that indicates whether a pdf is available (green) or not (grey).  Download the add-on.


Unpaywall is a non-profit initiative by Impactstory that leverages green Open Access literature, i.e. self-archived by researchers. It also straight-away accentuates the importance of self-archiving, e.g. in the VU or VUmc repository, as this directly contributes to Open Access.

For details on Unpaywall, green OA publishing or the VU repository, please visit the University Library website or contact the OA team via openaccess.ub@vu.nl