Five for Friday – Tools for better Open Access experiences

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of open access. But Open Access isn’t just about licensing, it’s also about the user experience of research and how we can provide better access to information. So this Friday we’re sharing some of the awesome tools to help with open access, whether you are publishing your own work, providing information for others or conducting research using open data.

Open Access Journals Toolkit

New for June 2023, this open access toolkit published by the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association and the Directory of Open Journals, aims ‘to promote transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity in scholarly publishing’. The toolkit provides support for publishers of both new and established open access journals to help them negotiate the tricky space of open access publishing.  

The toolkit includes guidelines and templates as well as a handy curated collection of resources covering various aspects of open access publishing, such as editorial policies, licensing, metadata and indexing. 

Nomad browser extension

Third Iron’s Libkey Nomad browser extension provides direct access to both your library’s subscription content as well as open access library scholarly articles. 

In a world of complicated licensing layers, we like this shift towards a more seamless browsing experience that this kind of tool provides. 

When browsing, you will see a little icon for downloading the full text PDF for content you have access to, including PubMed, Wikipedia and hundreds of Scholarly Publisher Websites.


Unpaywall is a project of OurResearch, and these folks are busy building tools to allow better access to scholarly research. At the time of writing, there are over 47.5 million free scholarly articles in the Unpaywall database, sourced from over fifty thousand journals and repositories.

The best part is the browser extension that shows you a little green tab that lets you skip the paywall (in a legal way) on millions of peer-reviewed journal articles.  

Open Access Button

The ethos at OA.Works is to provide access to trusted knowledge and make it easier to do research without subscription charges. 

Their Open Access Button tool searches for free, legal versions of full-text scholarly articles. You can search by article URL, DOI and a range of other options via the website, browser extensions, tools for libraries or the API. If it can’t find a free version it will start a request from the article author. 

COKI Open Access Dashboard

Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative (COKI) dashboard provides a league table of the top-performing open access publishers by country or by institution. You can click on each country listed to get a breakdown of the proportion of open to closed publications, as well as metrics like total citations.

At the time of writing, this visualisation platform for OA now includes data for 14,447 institutions and 221 countries.

If you want to learn more, you can read about how the Dashboard works or even dig into the code itself on Github.  

These are just some of the tools out there to help facilitate better access to Open Access content and services. If you have any recommendations for great OA tools or want to flag any we’ve missed, we’d love to hear from you