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Subject LibGuides

Open Access: OA Discovery

How do I know what's open?

open access iconYou know what you want to read, but the Library doesn't subscribe?  Or you're looking for anything related to your research interests, and you keep hitting paywalls?  Perhaps you're an author who has chosen to publish your work on an open access platform, and you want to be sure that readers will discover it?

Publishers and scholarly information specialists have developed discovery tools to make open access publications easy to find:  see the tabbed box below.


Directories of Open Access Publications

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) 

  • ‚ÄčThe definitive list of academically rigorous OA titles. Originating at Lund University, Sweden, DOAJ indexes over 12 000 journals which meet their Board's criteria for openness.  Free journals which require readers to register are excluded. 

Open Access Books on JSTOR   

  • More than 6,500 Open Access e-books from 85+ publishers, including Brill, Cornell University Press, De Gruyter, and University of California Press. Search the full text; results are presented as individual chapters which can be downloaded as a pdf or shared with a stable link.

Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) 

  • Developed by the not-for-profit OAPEN Foundation in the Netherlands, a catalogue of over 40 000 scholarly works from academic publishers and university presses.  Search or browse for e-books which can be incorporated into reading lists or course packs with no restrictions on reading, printing or downloading for private study.

See the Library's guide to Copyright for Teachers for a locally-maintained selection of OER providers and directories, from the UK and USA.  These resources are not formally endorsed by the University of Hull.

Find an open version

Screenshot of Library Search results showing the Open Access filterUsing the integrated Library Search interface, you can search across all the Library's collections simultaneously: physical stock, subscribed e-journals and e-books, plus bibliographic records for unsubscribed publications.

Your search results will show which publications are open access.  You can choose to limit your search to open-access only, if you are looking for resources which can be read online by anyone, whether or not they are a member of the University.



updateSome scientific publishers are offering open access to all journal articles related to the Covid 19 crisis.  Records for these publications can be found using the Library Search.

CORE logo


Developed by Jisc and the Open University, CORE Discovery provides a combined search interface for scholarly repositories and open access journals worldwide.  The full text file is harvested from each record and presented as a pdf in the CORE Reader.

You can also install the extension for Chrome, Firefox or Opera browsers, to search for a repository copy of any published paper ('green' open access).  The 'View Similar Papers' link directs you to further reading from open access sources.

Formerly known as Kopernio, EndNote Click is a free plug-in for Chrome, developed by the people behind the Web of Science bibliographic database. 

EndNote Click helps you get to your full-text PDFs faster by securely connecting you to your Library's journal subscriptions and open access content.  Once you have the PDF, you can easily export it to your favourite reference management tool [e.g. EndNote, Mendeley, Dropbox] or download it to your desktop.

Register with your University email address.  After you have installed the plug-in, you'll see a pop-up View PDF in your search results on the Library Catalogue, bibliographic databases and other academic websites, whenever EndNote Click can find a subscription or open access copy.

Open Access Button logo


A free extension for Chrome, developed in the UK with charitable funding, the OA Button searches across multiple databases of open access records simultaneously. When no open access version can be found,  the OA Button offers a Request service, to enable the reader to contact the author for a private copy.

For readers using a different browser, the developers provide a search form where you can simply paste the article details to run a search in the OA Button's database.

Open Access Helper logoOpen Access Helper is a free browser extension for Safari and macOS, using data from Unpaywall, Core and the Open Access button to locate free-to-read versions of scholarly articles.

Unpaywall logo


Unpaywall is a free extension for Chrome and Firefox, developed by Open Science advocates in the USA.  Unpaywall searches Gold open access journals directly, as well as harvesting data from institutional and national repositories, matched by DOI.  

Copyright warningThese search tools are designed to exclude 'pirate' (unlicensed) copies: published material which has been made open without the rights-holder's permission, or in breach of licence terms. 

(Readers should be aware that an author maintaining a profile on a scholarly networking service such as ResearchGate or may not have the rights to upload their published work, so these sites are not included).

See the Library's guide to Copyright for more information about rights and permissions for authors and readers of scholarly publications.

Danger iconSteer clear of Sci-Hub, a notorious web server for pirate copies of paywalled scholarly papers, run from Kazakhstan.  An article in the Washington Post (Dec 19, 2019) reported evidence that institutional login credentials provided by Sci-Hub users and supporters are being utilized by Russian intelligence.