Open Access Button: Tearing down barriers to accessing research

Open Access Button logo

One of the hottest topics in the context of research is Open Access; there are numerous events taking place each year all over the world, focusing on open access to scientific research and their data, highlighting issues, proposing solutions and approaches that can fit most purposes related to open access. Publications describing the issue are published every now and then, providing the status Terms like Gold & Green Open Access, self-archiving, institutional repositories, metadata, linked and open data, are really frequently discussed in related opportunities and alternative processes for review and publication of research papers are presented, usually as parts of processes integrated in open access journals.


By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.

The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Source: Wikipedia


It all started (or at least formalized) back in 2001, by the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which defined the term Open Access, created a critical mass of initial signatories and set the objectives/next steps for the future. Since then, the European Commission has invested high amounts (and hopes) for promoting the open access movement and building the necessary infrastructure through the funding of numerous projects that aim to provide the solutions needed. The Horizon 2020 programme calls are expected to give a significant boost to opening up access to research data in Europe, building on the previous work done in the context of the FP7 programme which also had a thing for Open Access – our agINFRA, SemaGrow and VOA3R projects made a small contribution in this direction while other, larger-scale and more focused projects like OpenAIRE provide the whole package to everyone interested in Open Access, from researchers to data providers, repository managers and even funding bodies. However, it seems that there are still issues, mostly due to the fact that Open Access to research & scientific information is mainly channelled through commercial journals and other types of publications operated by publishers who make their living out of it, providing a full service to the researchers who wish to publish their research outcomes in a well-respected (and indexed of course!) journal. This results in subscription/fee based only access to these research papers and it wouldn’t be a problem if large parts of these outcomes were not funded by public funds, EU-funded projects etc.



The Open Access Button

Open Access Button logo

Open Access Button

While Open Access allows everyone to freely access, use and re-use research outcomes, there are still these barriers in accessing them. In this direction, the Open Access Button was developed “to track the impact of paywalls and help you get access to the research you need“. It should be noted that the code, text, and data that has been pulled together are openly available, so anyone can innovate and advocate with it.

How to use the Open Access Button?

The idea behind the OA Button is simple; you just have to sign up (for free!) and then you get access to the OA Button, which is a simple bookmarklet. In order to use it, you just have to drag it to your browser’s bookmarks’ bar and drop it there! Then, each time you come across any paywall that restrict your access to a research paper, article etc., you just have to click on the OA Button and you will be presented with a simple form, most of which is already completed (by the metadata available in the HTML page that you are accessing).

Why to use the Open Access Button?

By using the button you’ll help show the impact of this problem, drive awareness of the issue, and help change the system. Furthermore, the Open Access Button has several ways of helping you get access to the research you need right now.

How was the Open Access Button implemented?

This project was made possible by developers, advocates, students and general clever folks from Open community; since all the team behind the Open Access Button is working on a voluntarily basis, continued support is needed to take the project to the next level. In this direction, everyone is invited to donate to the project (or contribute in any other way) to help support and maintain service as well as helping with the future development plans of the team. The team behind the Open Access Button is always open to suggestions, reporting of bugs and even virtual pats on the back, so feel free to contact them!


It would be great if you could take some time to sign in, get the Open Access button and give it a try; this would be a first small step towards identifying barriers that still keep you away from your favourite and not currently openly available research publications!


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