Find Open Access journal articles and books

These tools and websites help you find safe and legitimate Open Access versions of scholarly works. Open Access refers to material that is free to all readers at the point of access, so you can use and share it easily.

There’s been a move in recent years to make sure universities’ research outputs are not hidden behind publisher paywalls. More and more academic content, especially journal articles, is available in Open Access versions. Sometimes that is the finished article published as Open Access, or a version that has the same content but not the layout of the final journal article (Author Accepted Manuscripts or pre-print versions).

There are also websites dedicated to making out of copyright content digitally available.

Finding them isn't always easy. The tools and websites below help you find academic content that’s free or Open Access.

Browser extensions – find free academic content while searching the internet

These easy-to-install tools show which scholarly articles are free for you to access as you search the internet. Each has access to slightly different content, so try them and see which one, or what combination, works best for you. Once you've got them installed in your browser they don't really get in the way, and you can easily remove any you don't find valuable.

Icons of Open Access browser extensions

Open Access icons on your browser extension bar. Left to right: Open Access button, Kopernio, CORE Discovery, Unpaywall, Google Scholar button

How to use them

To find academic content, add “scholarly article” to your Google search keywords.

When you follow a link to an article, each tool will provide a visual clue and a download link if it can find an Open Access version of the article. These clues not only show that the article is free, but also that it is of high academic quality.

Open Access button ogo: orange padlock with a hand pressing the circle in the centre

Open Access button logo

Open Access button

Mockup of an article with the Kopernio view PDF button in the bottom left

Kopernio "View PDF" button


  • Works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera - install Kopernio
  • What makes it different?
    • Claims to find the "best PDF" version of the article
    • Kent staff and students: you can set this up so it first checks if the University has the article and only searches for an Open Access version if we don't subscribe to it
    • You can save articles to your "Locker" (Kopernio cloud storage)
  • More information: Kopernio get started in 2 minutes video
Different Core Discovery icons: grey - can't find full text; orange - suggest similar papers;  green - full text found

CORE Discovery icons

CORE Discovery


  • Unpaywall: all the content covered by this is also covered by the Open Access button; you can switch to "Nerd Mode" and see if articles are Gold, Green or Bronze Open Access
  • Google Scholar button: you can be link this to our Kent subscriptions, move your query from a web search into Google Scholar and export references

Search specific websites

The websites below are dedicated to listing high-quality academic content that is free for you to access.


  • CORE: describes itself as "the world's largest collection of open access research papers"; it contains many millions of articles harvested from academic and subject repositories around the world
  • DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals): provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals in all subject areas; it includes nearly 5 million articles 



  • EThOS (Electronic Theses Online): the British Library makes doctoral theses from UK universities available online; tick "Limit search to items available for immediate download" to see only Open Access items


Find out all the ways you can get in touch:

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