Assessing the Effectiveness of Open Access Finding Tools

Document Type


Publication Date

September 2019

Journal Title

Information Technology and Libraries






The open access (OA) movement seeks to ensure that scholarly knowledge is available to anyone with internet access, but being available for free online is of little use if people cannot find open versions. A handful of tools have become available in recent years to help address this problem by searching for an open version of a document whenever a user hits a paywall. This project set out to study how effective four of these tools are when compared to each other and to Google Scholar, which has long been a source of finding OA versions. To do this, the project used Open Access Button, Unpaywall, Lazy Scholar, and Kopernio to search for open versions of 1,000 articles. Results show none of the tools found as many successful hits as Google Scholar, but two of the tools did register unique successful hits, indicating a benefit to incorporating them in searches for OA versions. Some of the tools also include additional features that can further benefit users in their search for accessible scholarly knowledge.