Unpaywall: a search-engine for authorized, freely accessible versions of scholarly journal articles

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/06/search-engine-arbitrage.html


Not sure if working with Vivaldi (not counting having to enable the domain in microBlock) since it stayed gray for mSystems (one of 2 100% Open Access journals of ASM.org .)

Unpaywall.Org doesn’t much render in Firefox, being a body of one class and one script with like 9 dependencies that don’t show up in NoScript, followed by
<script src="//localhost:35727/livereload.js">
bc. Y U not run Vagrant?

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/unpaywall/ has been updated though.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/open.201500184/abstract even shows up green! W00+! Thanks. Now I know what do do with carbs the other 2 weeks of the month! (No. Gotta read through tho. Then I can use all the OJ bottles…)

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I’m all for free and open access to this type of thing, but I don’t think this should be claiming that it is legal. If it is indexing from a university and you are not a student there then its illegal, even if it is the fault of the university for leaving it freely accessible on their servers

Sort of like this:

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When I go to add it to Firefox, I have to give it permission to “access your data for all websites.” I realize it has to know if I’m looking at a scholarly journal, but does anyone know the details of what my “data for all websites” exactly means?

It means that we will never be allowed to install this on the machines at work.

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Not necessarily. Many academic publishers allow authors to put their papers on their own university websites. A crawler that indexes these is not illegal.


There’s no reason to suppose that the materials hosted on university or other Institutional Repositories are unlicensed, quite the opposite in fact. There are many articles out there behind paywalls that could be hosted open access but aren’t depending on the particular journal and funding body policies. There are plugins available for most institutional repository software to assist the author, and the body in charge of IP in the institution in this.

These systems use DOIs to keep track of different instances of the same article, just like Google Scholar does. It would be trivial for publishers to trawl for unlicensed and not allowable content. It would be quite problematic for the institutions concerned (well, you would actually most likely get a friendly enough request as they would assume you had made an honest mistake).

This plugin, which doesn’t index the fulltext of anything that isn’t fully allowable, tells you what kind of open access it is: a fully open access journal, a preprint server (most of the content of IRs) or an open access article in a paid for journal.


I’m all for open access on all research though too often the discussion really involves career progression of early career academics. While first world problems are still problems I think we would be better making all published research open access. I believe universities are chock full of clever people so they should work out their HR policies in a way that doesn’t enrich Elsevier to the great cost of humanity.

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