A year of crushing paywalls in GIFs

How did we do at providing free access to research in 2017? This year, we saw our work expand, accelerate, and mature! Still more to do, so see you in 2018 to get it done, but for now enjoy some GIFs.

Since 2013, the Open Access Button has been working to build and support efforts to make free, fast, legal tools for discovering free papers in one click from a paywall and making more articles Open Access. This year, we saw that work expand, accelerate, and mature! Still more to do, so see you in 2018 to get it done, but for now enjoy some GIFs.

Before we kick off, there are lots of opportunities to get sneak peaks at new tools coming soon. Checkout a new Open Access Button, our chatbot, and a suite of new tools and resources for libraries who want to discover Open Access in their systems.


In March, we announced our ideas for putting OA into Interlibrary Loan… get it? We were thrilled to see hundreds of librarians around the world sign up to learn more about the work, with many libraries pledging to support the work in significant ways.


We put our thinking caps on, and worked with libraries and experts across the globe to refine our ideas around ILL and institutional tools. In total, we probably got feedback from nearly 100 institutions (including 40+ hours of requirements gathering calls, 3 case studies, half a dozen talks around the world and more)!


With Imperial College London, we built a prototype for an Open Access Button-like tool that could be deployed on campuses bringing all the libraries delivery tools into one simple to use button. With the British Library, we worked on a prototype for integrating the Open Access Button into library search.


We co-developed three brand new tools to help institutions integrate Open Access into their workflows, and had many integrations with library systems developed. Excited to release these in 2018!


Our system for working with authors to make their work Open Access (the “request system”) turned one year old and went from handling 0 requests, to thousands, all while getting several times more effective and taking less time to manage. We’re busy doing systematic experimentation around how to get authors to deposit articles legally, quickly, and willingly. We can’t wait to share what we’re learning.


We made some new friends! This year, Unpaywall and oaDOI did amazing work to make it easier and mainstream discovering green Open Access. The hard work from the Wikipedia Library and community also paid off with OAbot, which saw tremendous early adoption in adding Open Access links to Wikipedia. The Dissem.in team also continued their fantastic work, including reaching out to authors cited on Wikipedia. Finally, our friends at Cottagelabs released a great update to Lantern, which is a free tool that takes the work out of Open Access policy compliance and enforcement for libraries and funders.


We made huge strides towards making the Open Access Button truly sustainable. More on this in 2018.


We rebuilt the Open Access Button apps, website, and documented our API to make them all easier to use. In response, the tools were used over 6 million times.


If the articles we deliver could speak, we think this is what they’d say.

This year our system for finding access to research dramatically improved. From working only on URLs and one aggregator, to working on all the repository aggregators and identifiers. Next year, we’ll be releasing significant upgrades to our accuracy and ability to link right to full text, especially when searching using titles.


Thanks to our team, past and present, especially Natalia Norori, who manages our request system every single day alongside a team of volunteers (thanks to Jibe, Roxanne, Graham, Rajasekhar, Maria Elena, Gorla Praveen, and Sarah as well!), and Chealsye Bowley who has contributed immeasurably to almost everything we do. Mark MacGillivray, our developer, continues to contribute more than we could ever fully acknowledge to making the Button a success. Our friends at SPARC, especially Nick Shockey, Shawn Daugherty, Heather Joseph, and Raym Crow who have all been instrumental in the Button’s success.

The library community continues to be the wind beneath our wings, working tirelessly to build the repositories we rely on and fill them with content. We’re also incredibly grateful to the libraries who gave us feedback and co-developed tools and ideas with us. Our new friends have also made huge contributions to the Open Access Button through inspiration, open sharing, and fantastic discussions. Thanks also to Jisc for helping to fund our work, and convene work in the UK to support it.

Finally, thank you to the community of advocates around the world who continue to promote and use the Open Access Button.

Phew. Busy year. If you want to get involved next year, we’d love a few more friendly faces to help moderate requests.


Post updated Jan 2nd.

After writing, our friend Diego Gomez was finally cleared of all charges related to his important, tragic case. The Open Access Button, along with many other fantastic organizations (especially Fundación Karisma) and thousands of supporters, have been proudly working for years to make sure Diego went free. We couldn’t be happier for Diego and his family, sanity has prevailed and he can get back to research — but the fight to stop this happening again isn’t over.