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What is Unpaywall?

Q. Are you worried about the cost of doing research when the online article you need asks you to pay?

A. Don't be worried and don't pay!

Unpaywall is a browser extension (for Chrome and Firefox) that discovers and links to open access copies of scholarly articles. Unpaywall is powered by a database of millions of scholarly papers, many of which have full-text Open Access versions. The database incorporates a number of data sources, including PubMed Central, DOAJ, CrossRef, DataCite, Google Scholar, BASE, and open access repositories. The data is made open for reuse via the oaDOI API, and that, in turn, powers Unpaywall.


After installing Unpaywall, any research you find online will be searched to see if a free open access copy exists. If it does, you’ll see a green, gold, or blue padlock tab with an unlocked symbol in your browser window. Just click the padlock, and read. Skip the paywall on millions of peer-reviewed journal articles.


Example of an article showing green open access version available through Unpaywall
Example of an article showing green open access version available through Unpaywall

Q. Why does the Unpaywall padlock tab come in different colors?

A. The colors give an indication of the type of Open Access license that applies to the article.

  • Gold padlock for Gold Open Access articles available directly from the publisher.
  • Green padlock for articles that are self-archived on a preprint server or in an institutional repository.
  • Blue padlock for articles where the license information is unknown.

A closed gray padlock means no Open Access version could be identified.

Interlibrary Loan

Q. What if the Library doesn't own it and I can't find a free copy of the article?

A. Use Interlibrary Loan to order copies of articles from other libraries.

The service is free for all Le Moyne students, faculty, and staff. Articles can usually be found within 1 working day and an electronic version sent directly to you.

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