Searching for open access articles

FAQ: I am creating an online resource and would like to ensure that my reading list comprises only texts that are open access (OA). Where can I find suitable content?OAlogo

There are plenty of open access articles and papers out there, if you know where to look. In the list below I have focused on text based materials rather than other resource types.

General repository search (all subjects):

  • CORE – harvests a large number of repositories, claiming to index over 20 million articles.
  • OAIster – now run by WorldCat – includes 30 million records, including text, audio, video, images and datasets.
  • Digital Commons Network – has a colourful subject wheel to facilitate browsing; indexes repositories supported by Digital Commons software.
  • OpenDOAR repository search and Registry of Open Access Repositories – OpenDOAR and ROAR are both registries of repositories; they each have a Google Custom Search box to enable searching of content.

Subject specific repositories:

  • ArXiv – the original and best known subject repository – nearly one million articles in physics, maths, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics.
  • Europe PubMed Central – biomedical and health subjects – has a filter for OA content on its Advanced Search page.
  • RePEc – 1.4 million research papers in economics.
  • Social Science Research Network – nearly 500,000 full text papers and a similar number abstract only.

Open Access journals:


  • Directory of Open Access Books – indexes over 2000 OA books with links to publishers’ copies.
  • OAPEN – over 2000 downloadable OA books in humanities and social sciences.


  • Google Scholar – includes both OA and subscription resources but worth a try if there’s something specific that you are after (for example, you may find an OA copy of a subscription article). Click on the down arrow in the search box to access Advanced Search.
  • Google Books – claims to have millions of books that can be previewed or read for free but (as far as I can see) there is no filter to isolate the OA content.
  • FreeFullPDF – “over 80 million free scientific publications” – but sources are unspecified [added 28/7/14]

If you are aware of any other service that might usefully be included in this list then please do let me know and I’ll make sure it is added.

Posted on July 25, 2014, in Library and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. JURN is a unique search-engine dedicated to indexing only free and ‘open access’ ejournals in the arts and humanities. It has been built by hand over a period of five years. In March/April 2014 the scope of JURN was widened to include other open scholarly publications, such as theses and journals in science, biomedical, business and ecology related topics.

    There is also a comprehensive directory of arts & humanities titles in English in JURN…

    And another for ecology and related titles…


  2. JournalTOCs includes content from 7,840 OA journals, and a growing number of OA articles in hybrid journals are also identified as OA.


    • Miggie Pickton

      Thanks Roddy.
      JournalTOCs covers both subscription and OA journals. The service shows OA status at the journal level. If you perform an article level search you will need to navigate to the table of contents to get this information.


  1. Pingback: OA and the research lifecycle 1: identifying a new research area | Research Support Hub

  2. Pingback: OA and the research lifecycle 4: conducting the literature review | Research Support Hub

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s