What is Open Access and how can it help me?

Library resources are not free!

The Library pays hundreds of thousands of pounds every year for subscriptions to online journal collections and databases that provide you with access to original published research.  This subscribed content is crucial for completing coursework and carrying out research.  It is available via LibrarySearch, direct from the publisher platforms (see links on our Resources A-Z or Subject Guides) and we have chosen to make much of it available via Google Scholar.  However, these Library subscriptions are not freely available; they are behind a paywall that your Abertay login credentials allow you to unlock. 

Our resources are also set up to recognise when you are on-campus (IP authentication) so you will easily get to our full-text subscriptions via Google when in the University.  If you try this from home you would not get to the full-text without logging in.

No University has access to all published research and sometimes you will need to obtain something that is not covered by our subscriptions.  Open Access research outputs complement our Library subscriptions and are a valuable resource for all staff and students.

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) refers to the unrestricted, online access to published research outputs.  It allows published research to be made freely available online rather than only being available to those who can pay for access.  The Government and most research funders support OA believing that increased access and reuse of research outputs are beneficial.  OA publishing is consistent with the highest standards of quality and is now a well accepted route for publishing research outputs. 

Where should I search?

You should always begin your search with LibrarySearch as it is the quickest and easiest way to search our large collection of resources simultaneously.  LibrarySearch contains a mix of subscribed (paid-for) and Open Access content.  You will see that there are icons in the results list for both peer-reviewed and OA content.  However, if you don't find what you're after in LibrarySearch, there are also some additional tools you can try to find an OA version elsewhere.  Although these tools won't always give you the access you require, they are a useful addition to your research toolkit when you need instant access to something.

There are many OA tools available but we have selected four of the best for you to try.  Just as LibrarySearch simulateously searches multiple Library resources from a single search box so you don't have to repeat the same search in various databases; these OA tools search thousands of sources to instantly locate an OA version for you.  OA content is harvested from many sources including repositories run by governments and scholarly societies but the main sources are University repositories and OA journal content hosted by publishers themselves.

  • Open Access Repositories hold digital copies of published research outputs that are then freely accessible - like our Abertay Research Portal 
  • Open Access Journals make their articles available for free but sometimes require the author to pay a fee to support publication costs.  The journal and article are then freely available to the general public and not locked behind a paywall.  OA journal articles are also peer-reviewed.

What if I still can't find what I'm after?

If you can't gain access via our Library subscriptions or through the tools suggested below, you can submit an inter-library loan request.  And please remember that if you have any queries about accessing resources for coursework or research please contact us: library@abertay.ac.uk


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Search for OA articles now using this search widget powered by the Open Access Button:

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Open Access Button
Google Scholar Button
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