Research Writing

Open access articles Advantages Types Find open access articles

Academics, students and researchers in general, when looking for references for their work, are faced with a very interesting and high-quality abstract, but cannot access the full text for free. In this case, it is necessary to verify if there are Open Access contents. Understand the concept better and see how to find open access scientific articles in repositories. 

The dynamics of a scientific publication works like this: after completing his study, the researcher publishes the results in a scientific journal to establish his authorship. However, most magazines have closed access and only the richest educational institutions are able to “buy” for their students. Thus, anyone interested in a closed scientific article is not always able to access the complete document. 

For many, limited access reduces the effectiveness of scientific communication and creates barriers to the recognition of relevant studies in different areas of knowledge. For this reason, there is a strong Open Access movement in the scientific literature in Brazil and the world. 

According to a report published by Science-Metrix in 2018, Brazil stands out as the country with the most open access scientific publications. Of the articles published in national journals, 74% have open access. 

One of the main factors responsible for democratizing access to scientific knowledge in Brazil is the Scielo platform (Scientific Electronic Library Online), which brings together 283 scientific journals from Brazil and other countries at the same electronic address. 

What is Open access articles?

Open Access, is a type of document that everyone can read, download, copy and distribute. Access is available in digital, thematic repositories or those belonging to an institution.

The term “open access” does not only refer to the access availability of a document, but also to its permissions – restrictions associated with copyright. The term is often used to classify scientific articles published in journals, conference papers, theses and technical reports. 

In open access, there is no barrier for the reader, that is, he does not need to worry about cost or registration to access the document. Thus, many researchers publish open access scientific articles as a strategy to disseminate science and increase the citation rate. 

In the open access universe there is another movement called “green road of open access”, in which the authors themselves make their scientific research available to the community in general. Thus, they are not so dependent on the action of journals.

Advantages of Open access articles

  • increases the visibility of scientific work;
  • in addition to reaching the scientific community, it also reaches the professional and business communities;
  • get more citations.

Types of Open access articles

When it comes to open access in the scientific world, it is important to highlight that there are variants. Are they:

  • Golden way: institutions finance journals, which in turn offer free content to readers.
  • Greenway: the author uses his own website to archive scientific articles that have been accepted for publication after reviews carried out by journals.
  • Hybrid: the author pays for his article to be made available with open access in a commercial scientific journal.
  • Embargo: when a subscription scientific journal releases access to scientific articles – this usually occurs after 1 or 2 years of publication. Thus, the material becomes part of the golden path. 
  • For a limited time: occurs when the journal makes some paid scientific articles available for open access for a limited time. After this period, the material is closed again.


If you want to learn more about Open Science, it is worth knowing the MOOC course offered by Fiocruz through its virtual campus. There are several modules available, which address topics such as fundamentals, historical background and intellectual property.

How to find open access articles?

Because of the open access movement, thousands of academic research are currently available on the web with free and open access. Thus, it is not necessary to pay a subscription or buy items individually. The problem is that many students still find it difficult to track scientific publications on the web. 

Don’t know how to find open access scientific articles? Check out some interesting tools:


BASE, created by Bielefeld University Library in Germany, is one of the largest aggregators of scientific articles in the world, with more than 240 million documents. Of the works identified, at least 40% are open access. It doesn’t link full texts in search results, but it presents a very nice interface. 


It works similarly to BASE, performing searches in a collection of more than 200 million documents. The system has the role of aggregating works from institutional repositories and open or hybrid access journals.

Lazy Scholar

The extension, available for Google Chrome Firefox browsers, finds full and freely accessible texts that you can reference in your search. Synchronized with Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic and Web of Science, it provides citation metrics.

The Master

OAIster is a service that brings together millions of open access publications. It is owned by the Online Computer Library Center, the largest cooperative of libraries, museums and archives in the world.

Open Access Button

Another plugin widely used by researchers is the Open Access Button. Every time a paywall page (which requires payment to download an article) is accessed, the extension must be clicked. Thus, the application searches for free versions of the desired article, which may be available on Google Scholar and CORE aggregators.

Google Scholar button

Launched in 2015, this extension is a favorite of most students. When opening an article with closed access, the button, installed on the toolbar, is able to check if there is a version of the document with free access among the documents indexed on the web. To verify this, just mark the title of the article with the mouse and click on the plugin icon. 

unpaywall button

Another effective tool worth knowing is the Unpaywall plugin. This extension, available for Google Chrome, finds open access versions of scientific articles with just one click. That way, you get the documents you legally need.

Verification via Unpaywall is based on the following data sources: DOAJ (repertoire of open access newspapers), Crossref (service for exchanging metadata of articles from the main publishers), DataCite (management of identifiers) and BASE (main aggregator of open repositories ). The plugin is capable of parsing 20 million legal and free full text PDFs.

After installing Unpaywall, open a scientific article that interests you. Note the tab next to the material: if the padlock is open and green, it means that the system has found a full version of the material with free access. By clicking on the icon, the user is directed to the PDF of the text. 

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