Continuing Access to Journal Articles

Subscriptions are not always the most efficient way to obtain lawful access to scholarly articles and popular periodicals. To ensure a diverse and sustainable collection that supports the full range of research at UVA, the University of Virginia Library supports access using a variety of mechanisms, chosen with care and including input from our faculty. The UVA Library maintains close communication with faculty departments and continuously monitors requests for new subscriptions.  There are many different avenues to get access to journals without subscriptions. The following are some of the ways that scholars can quickly access the content they need.

Find an open access copy

significant and growing proportion of articles are lawfully available online for free in open access versions, whether in OA journals, in a repository, on a personal webpage, or on an academic networking website. It is worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is already available free of charge by searching its title in Google or Google Scholar, or using a browser plug-in like the ones below to locate OA versions when you encounter a paywall. 

Also check out the UVA Library's Sustaining Open Scholarship Guide, especially the Discovery and Gathering section.

Browser Plug-ins

There are several browser extensions or plug-ins you can install that will search compiled collections for an open access version of a desired article.

  • Open Access Button (OA Button): From the OA Button’s website, you can enter an article’s URL, DOI, title, or other information to check for free and legal open access versions. Even better, the OA Button also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions. Once installed, these extensions will automatically search for an open access copy of an article when you encounter a paywall on a journal's website. When an open access copy is not found, the OA Button can help you contact the author directly to ask them to share the article with you and make an open version .
  • Unpaywall: You can either directly search Unpaywall’s database of millions of open access articles by entering the DOI for an article, or install the browser extension, which will point you to any open access versions of paywalled articles you come across online. 

Online repositories

There are a number of repositories into which authors have deposited self-archived copies of their articles. Most repositories are well-indexed, so searching for the article should surface an open access copy if one exists.

Request it from the author

Most publishers allow responsible sharing of your own publications. One way to get an article is to contact an author and ask. The author’s name and institution, if available, are usually shown on the preview page of the article. Some authors are open to receiving requests for articles via social networking sites where researchers share their work, such as Academia.eduResearchGateMendeley, and HumanitiesCommons. The Open Access Button will allow you to request a free version for yourself and guide the author through the process of publishing a legal, open access version online for future researchers to find.

Alternatively, you can make a request to the author via Twitter using the hashtag #icanhazpdf with a link to the publication you need. 

Get it from the library

Interlibrary Loan and Article Delivery

UVA Library's Interlibrary Loan unit participates in a global resource sharing network whose mission is to support your research. We can also use an article supply service (ReprintsDesk) to enable expedited article acquisition and delivery when the need for an article is urgent. ILL staff are available and happy to assist you. The technology that enables these services is constantly improving, and the Library is working to make access as seamless and easy as possible, with or without subscriptions. For now, please use the "Need By Date" in the request form to let our staff know how quickly content is needed, so they can choose the appropriate service. Note that fast service is more expensive and thus taxing on Library budgets. Don't hesitate to ask for the speed you need, but if your request is less urgent, you can help support sustainable research by using slightly less speedy modes of access.