How to find free or Open Access papers

There are various ways to legally access a publication that is not covered by the Library's subscriptions to journals.

Web browser extensions



This tool lists the freely accessible versions of scientific articles, whether they are on the publisher's website or in a disciplinary or institutional archive.

You may

Once the extension is installed, it displays a padlock-shaped button on the right of the page, when browsing on a publisher's site or in a database. If a freely accessible version is known or detected by Unpaywall, the button turns green.

By clicking on the green button, you are automatically redirected to the pdf of the free version that is hosted on one of the many platforms (directories or Open Access editors) existing throughout the world.

Current coverage: nearly 25 million articles

Read the description of the tool (in French)

More details :

  • Open Access Button
    Available for Chrome and Firefox
    Works in a similar way to Unpaywall.
    Once installed, the extension generates a button, this time in the upper right-hand corner of the browser toolbar.
    The search for a freely accessible version only starts when you click on the button.
    It is also possible to use the tool without downloading the extension, by entering the URL, DOI, PMID,... directly on the OA button website.
    • nice little extra: if there is no freely accessible version available, the tool promps you to explain why you are interested in this article and sends a request to the author on your behalf, inviting him to put his article online.

  • Google Scholar Button
    Available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari
    Googlescholarbutton.pngExtension that generates a button, in the top right of the browser's toolbar. By clicking on the button, a window with the Google Scholar search results appears.
    To get the most out of it, we recommend enabling UNIGE access in the button via the option "Library Links"
    • nice little extra: allows you, as in Google Scholar, to know how many times the article has been cited and helps you create a formatted reference to cite it very easily.


  • CORE Discovery Core_found_small.png
    Available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera
    Extension that generates a button on the right side of the web page.  By clicking on it, you are redirected to the freely accessible version found by the extension.
    • nice little extra: if the desired article is not available, the extension recommends other freely accessible articles on related topics


  • EndNote Click (formerly Kopernio)
    Available for Chrome and FirefoxKopernio_found_small.png
    Free browser extension, but requires you to create an account to download and configure it. With this account, you benefit from a "Locker", or online storage space, in which each PDF you have accessed through the extension is automatically stored.Capture_endnoteclick.PNG
    Generates the display of a button in the bottom left corner of your browser.
    • little drawback: free storage up to 100MB, but after that, premium version is required (to get 2'000MB). 

Ask your network

Other methods exist to obtain a document that you do not have access to via Library subscriptions:

  • Write directly to the author to request a copy of his/her document.
    Generally, you will find her/his email in the additional information about the author on the publisher's website.

  • Ask an author for his/her publication via academic social networks.
    Many authors have profiles on ResearchGate, or Mendeley for example. To be able to interact with other authors, you will need to create a profile for yourself.
    Be careful, the provision of the full text (editor's version) of a document on its profile is generally prohibited by the editors! However, you are perfectly entitled to provide your profile with the metadata of your publications with a link to them, preferably on the Archive ouverte UNIGE, and to personally transmit the PDFs to any person who requests them.

  • Use the hashtag #icanhazpdf on Twitter
    If you have an account on Twitter, send a tweet with the link to the publication and this hashtag. Anyone with access to this content will be able to send you the PDF.