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What is Open Access?
Authoritative, peer-reviewed articles in academic journals have traditionally only been made available to readers upon payment of a fee, whether it's a charge for that one article or a subscription to the journal. Libraries often purchase subscriptions to online services that provide access to a large number of journals for an annual fee.
The Open Access movement (OA) favors making research articles available to all readers, with the intent of supporting further research that is not hindered by the high cost of accessing prior work.
Many university-level researchers argue the benefits of OA, sometimes going to great lengths to make their own work available to the public despite the university's preference for charging a fee to obtain access to that work. Academic journals are able to partly offset the cost of publishing by charging a subscription fee, and often look less favorably on OA initiatives.
Open Access efforts have on occasion led to poor quality publishing. Some lesser known journals that have moved to an OA model have been shown to have lax peer review standards, so readers need to use care when using these materials.
Apps and extensions
Open Access Button
Use this browser extension to search for free access to requested articles.
Add this extension to your browser to identify free articles in a search list.
Places to look for free articles
Directory of Open Access Journals
A large collection of open access, peer reviewed journals.
Google Scholar will find relevant academic articles which may or may not be available for free. Before paying for an article, check the Menlo databases to see if the article is available there.
These are open access journals in the fields of biology and medicine.
PubMed is a large index of biomedical and health journals. FAQ pages explain how to navigate the site, use limiters, and restrict your results to free articles.
Look for articles that are tagged "Open Access" or use the link to contact the author for access.