May 28, 2022

Perspectives on the Open Access Discovery Landscape

From the JISC Scholarly Communications Blog:


(Posted on behalf of Andrea Chiarelli (Consultant) and Rob Johnson (Director) of Research Consulting):


A number of OA discovery tools are available today and libraries and researchers themselves are making important decisions as to how to engage with and use such products. In this context, Jisc asked Research Consulting to prepare the present review to help guide their future understanding and support for their members.

Why do OA discovery tools matter?

Discovering free-to-read academic articles is frequently difficult, as there is no single place where these can be found. From the perspective of a reader browsing the web for articles to read, OA discovery tools are most relevant in a specific scenario – imagine you are visiting a journal web page and find an article you wish to read:

  • If it is OA, you don’t really need OA discovery tools to carry out any searches as the article will be immediately available to browse and, likely, to download.
  • If it is not OA, however, OA discovery tools become relevant: finding if and where an open version exists is a real challenge! For instance, possible answers may lie in institutional repositories (Green OA) or preprint servers.

OA discovery tools tend to operate in similar ways. First, a user installs the tool’s browser extension. Then, when the extension detects a DOI as the user browses the internet, this is used to run a search against:

  • The tool’s own database, if one is available; and
  • A range of external databases, including e.g. PMCCORE (a Jisc-funded service), BASE or another tool’s database (e.g. the Unpaywall dataset).

Direct to Full Text Blog Post (approx. 1860 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.