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Starving for facts? A new add-on grants you free access to peer-reviewed journal articles, and it’s legal

Those looking to get access to peer-reviews journal articles now have a powerful ally. A nonprofit, working to make science more open and reusable online, had developed an add-on that grants users free access to articles published in some of the most important scientific journals. And it’s all legal.

For scientists but also for the general public, interested in science, Impactstory came up with a useful add-on to help them have free access to peer-reviewed articles, published in some of the most prestigious journals. The nonprofit that developed the tool is supported with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

The add-on, usable with Chrome browsers and Mozilla, is called Unpaywall and its free for download.


“Now more than ever, humanity needs to access our collective knowledge, not hoard it behind paywalls. Lots of researchers feel the same; that’s why they upload their papers to free, legal servers online. We want to help bring that open access content to the masses,” the company said about the project.

Practically, Unpaywall gathers content from thousands of open-access repositories worldwide, that means that it even looks at pre-print copies of the articles that the researchers themselves have uploaded before publishing. This makes Unpaywall a legal tool in accessing reliable scientific articles.

And it’s easy to use. All the user has to do is to download the app and watch it work. When wanting to read an article, users just have to check the little padlock in the right side of their browsers. A green lock signals that the article is free to read while a gold padlock suggest that the articles are available from the publisher under an open license while a blue lock shows that there is no online information about the license of the article.

Just click on the padlock and you will be able to read the entire article.

The developers say that for 65-85% of articles, the users of the add-on will observe a green lock.

Sylvia Jacob