Why pay for what’s free? Finding open access and public domain articles

Read the full post at Everybody’s Libraries.

[Another version of this post appears on PennLibNews, as part of the Penn Libraries’ celebration of Open Access Week.]

It happens to most researchers all too often.  You see a reference or a link to an article that you’d love to read or use in your research.  It looks like the article is online.  But when you follow the link or look up the journal of venue it’s in, you’re confronted with a paywall— an impassable login screen, or a demand to pay a fee to read the article.  Not all journals charge fees to readers (in fact, thousands do not), but for those that do, the fees are sometimes quite large– they can be $30 or $40 or more for a single article, and sometimes that fee only gets you access for a limited time period.  Readers not affiliated with research institutions often run into paywalls, but so do scholars at elite research institutions, because none of us can afford to pay the ever-growing subscription prices of all the commercial journals on the market.  (Not even Harvard.)

When you hit a paywall, it’s tempting to give up, look for other articles instead, or take your chances trying to get an illicit copy from sketchy bootleg sites.  But there are various ways you can often get a legitimate version of the article you seek without having to pay anything.  Here are some avenues you can look into.

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