Making more research Open Access one paper at a time

At the Open Access Button we go beyond finding research and directly reach out to scholars who publish their work in paywalled journals to ask them to legally share their research. We recently shared a few examples of stories from users who have used the Button to request research they need. With each request we create more freely available research.

Turning paywalls into OA

Each request begins as a search from an individual researcher, student, doctor, or curious person. Let’s take a recent request for example. Christof, a researcher, searched for a recently published paper titled “Exploring the role of gender in 19th century fiction through the lens of word embeddings” by pasting in the paper’s url in the search box at The Button searched thousands of open access repositories by utilizing repository aggregators, including BASE, CORE, oaDOI, Share, and others.

Unfortunately, the paper wasn’t found in a repository. The Button then prompted Christof to create a request and asked, How would getting access to this research help you?

The Open Access Button automatically extracts the corresponding author’s email address from the paywalled page or we find it manually. Once a request has all the information it needs, the Request Manager, Natalia, double checks the request and sends it to the author. The requester is notified and can track progress in their inbox or on our website.

Christof’s paper request was sent out the same day to the corresponding author. The author received an email that included:

A researcher is interested in reading your article, “Exploring the role of gender in 19th century fiction through the lens of word embeddings.” Christof told us that “I’m working on use cases in the humanities employing word embeddings. There are not many of them so your contribution would be essential to my work.” By sharing your article you’ll help Christof, but it could also increase the impact of your research.

All major publishers permit the author to share a version of their article in a repository or personal website. For the majority of requests we send, the author can legally share the submitted or accepted versions of the article! If authors wish to share their research, they can either deposit it to a repository and send us a link, or give us a copy to upload. We archive articles in Zenodo. However, if their publishing agreement prevents them from sharing their article, the author can refuse the request.

Our new author deposit page. Authors are provided with easy methods to upload their research, share via url, or refuse the request. For journals included in SHERPA/RoMEO, we provide information to the author on what version of their research can be legally shared.

Great news: the author responded to Christof’s request in one day with a link to an archived copy of the paper. We sent Christof the link and now the paper is discoverable and freely accessible to all!

Note: This story was updated on April 23rd to remove a request to help moderate requests.