Alternative access

Alternative access to articles describes special options, if a license agreement has not been entered into with the publisher.

Curved wall of library shelves

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Today, close to 40% of all scientific publications are freely available (Open Access, OA) on the internet.

However, the following OA databases and tools (plugins to browsers) are particularly useful if a licensing deal hasn’t been made with the publisher.


BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) is an academic search engine indexing 240 million documents with 60% OA full text available. Content stems from journals, institutional repositories and digital collections also covering resources at ”the deep web” ignored by commercial search engines like Google. Search BASE 

CORE is a not-for-profit service from The Open University and Jisc harvesting and aggregating OA research papers from data providers from all over the world including repositories and OA articles from journal publishers. CORE currently contains more than 205 million OA articles. Search CORE

Google Scholar is an academic search engine indexing millions of academic documents - ”closed” as well as OA. Publisher versions of documents are preferred in the page rank. Via ”Settings” - ”Library links” you can add your own university library to show links to full text available via your library. Search Google Scholar.


Many institutions internationally ensure that OA versions of research articles are available in a legal way. By installing a free plug-in for your browser (Chrome or Firefox) you can get easy access to these articles.
The following plug-ins are recommended:

If a freely available version of the article exists, you will see a green open access symbol with a direct link to the article.

Contact your network

Request articles directly from authors via e-mail

You can request an article by sending an e-mail to one of the authors, you can often find it as part of the article information at the publishers website. Most scientific publishers allow responsible sharing of publications and to provide digital copies privately for colleagues and students upon request. See example from Elsevier.

Contact the library at your place of employment

Please contact your library for further information.