my-cumbria-logo, my-cumbria-logo Toggle navigation

Open Access Banner,

The resources listed in this guide are Open Access, which means they are freely available for anyone to read online.

Here are some suggestions on how to find open access scholarly content.

  • Find OA content with these browser tools

    Here are browser Apps/tools to help you discover Open Access content online:

    Open Access , Open Access logo 

    EndNote Click

    (formerly Kopernio)

    Automatically search the Library's subscriptions, pre-print servers, institutional repositories and private blogs for free PDFs. Works with Web of Science, Pubmed, Google Scholar and 1000s of other academic platfroms including ScienceDirect and JSTOR.


    Add the Unpaywall app to Chrome. Search for content that you can use legally.  Sources include repositories run by universities, governments, and scholarly societies, as well as open content hosted by publishers.

    Open Access Button

    Use the Open Access search box to locate the OA version of an article, or add this extension to your Chrome browser. 

    Open Access Helper for macOS and iOS

    There are more than 23 million Open Access versions of otherwise "paywalled" scientific articles. Open Access Helper for iOS and Open Access Helper for Safari (macOS) are designed to help you get easy access to these articles, with a lot of help from the awesome APIs from and

    Google Scholar Button

    The Google Scholar Button provides quick access to Google Scholar from any web page via a pop-up window that finds citations when you click on the Google Scholar icon.

  • Open Access Collections

    A good way to discover open access journal articles and books is to use an open access collection. Here are some of the main OA collections available to you:

    Open Access , Open Access logo  ARXIV  Open access to over one million research papers in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics. These are often author versions of articles intended for publication in scholarly publications.

    Base (Bielefeld Academic Search) 

    Access over 120 million documents from 6000+ sources. More than 60% of indexed full text documents are available via open access

    BioMed Central Journals

    BioMed Central is an open access publisher of over 200 free online academic journals specializing in subjects related to science, technology and medicine.


    A free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences.

    Brill Open eBook Collection 

    Over 400 open access humanities and social science ebooks.

    Campbell Collaboration

    The Campbell Collaboration is an international social science research network that produces high quality, open and policy-relevant evidence syntheses, plain language summaries and policy briefs.


    A free service for unpublished preprints in chemistry and related areas.

    Cogent OA (Taylor & Francis)

    Cogent OA is a multidisciplinary series of broad-scope open access journals, helping researchers share their ideas and discoveries as widely and effectively as possible.


    Self-archived papers in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Linguistics, Philosophy, Biology


    The world’s largest collection of open access research papers


    Discover Open Access books


    Directory of Open Access Journals


    EThOS is the UK’s national thesis service which aims to maximise the visibility and availability of the UK’s doctoral research theses.

    HathiTrust Digital Library

    Offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.


    University of Cumbria's Instututional Repository. Discover outputs from University of Cumbria staff and researchers.

    JSTOR Open Access Journals

    JSTOR's growing collection of Open Access journals cover topical areas in sustainability and security studies, and offer broad coverage in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

    Knowledge Unlatched

    Knoweldge Unlatched makes scholarly content freely available to everyone and contributes to the future development of the Open Access infrastructure.

    Manchester Openhive 

    Over 200 freely available ebooks published by Manchester University Press. Subject coverage includes, the arts and humanities, and social sciences.

    National Academies Press

    All books published by the National Academies Press can be downloaded as PDFs for free by registering for a free account. Browse topics like aging, children, youth & families, policy, reviews and evaluations, population and fertility studies, women and minorities.  

    OAPEN - Open Access Publishing in European Networks 

    A quality controlled collection of open access books, mainly in the area of humanities and social sciences.

    Open Book Publishers

    UK independent open access publisher in the humanities and social sciences. Over 200 titles freely available to read online and download.


    A quality-assured global directory of academic open access repositories.

    Open Textbook Library 

    Open textbooks are licensed by authors and publishers to be freely used and adapted.

    Open Textbooks

    A curated collection of open textbooks available to read online and download.

    Policy Commons

    Database of global grey literature and government publications.

    Public Library of Science (PLos)

    The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource. PLoS journals are concentrated in the areas of biology, medicine and genetics but health policy, mental health, public health and other health areas may be of importance to some social work researchers.

    Sage Open 

    SAGE Open is an open access publication from SAGE. It publishes peer-reviewed, original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. Articles span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities.


    Open archive of the social sciences, provides a free, non-profit, open access platform for social scientists to upload working papers, preprints, and published papers.

    Springer Open

    Search within over 160 peer-reviewed open access journals and some open access books. Most journals are in the medicine and science but there are some articles covering the social sciences. 

    SpringerOpen Books 

    Open access ebooks in a wide range of subjects wiithn science, technology and medicine.



  • University of Cumbria OA Journals

    The University of Cumbria publishes six Open Access journals on topics around education, psychology and health.

    See University of Cumbria | Open Journal System for more information and to read the journals.

  • Subject Specific OA Journals and Resources

  • Evaluating the quality of Open Access material

    Sadly, there are some Open Access journals that exist for the sole purpose of profit, not the dissemination of high-quality research findings and furtherance of knowledge. These journals are usualy known as predatory journals.  Beall's list collates a list of potential predatory Open Access publishers and journals and it's not a short list! It can't spot everything, you also need to evaluate all sources for yourself.

    According to Think-Check-Submit, these are some of the things to watch out for:

    A predatory journal/publisher may display one or more of these characteristics:

    • A journal title which can be easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the journal’s origin, scope or association with other journals
    • Very wide scope
    • Displays of unofficial impact factors
    • False claims of being indexed in major services like PubMed or DOAJ
    • No publisher address or contact information
    • Unclear ownership of the journal
    • Spams researchers with many emails inviting submissions, often unrelated to expertise
    • Advertises very fast times from submission to publication
    • Publishes out-of-scope articles
    • Publishes nonsense articles
    • Poor or non-existent editing of articles (many spelling mistakes or very poor grammar)
    • Hides information on charges
    • No editorial board is listed, or the editorial board comprises dead or retired scholars or scholars who are not specialised in the topic
    • Lack of information on the policies of the journal, such as peer review, licensing and copyright.

    The University of Cumbria's Website Evaluation Ticklist  and Critical Reading Grid will also help you appraise online content more closely.


Edit page