The Open Access Button

African Studies Library

How to get free, legal research articles delivered instantly or automatically requested from authors with the open access button.

Open Access Button Logo

When you hit a message such as this one while doing research, it means you've hit what is called a "paywall".


If your library hasn't subscribed to the journal, you will be asked to pay a hefty charge for accessing the article.

However, often an open access verion of the article in question exists, it's just a matter of knowing how and where to find it. One of such ways is the Open Access Button.

open access button

There are two way of using the Open Access Button:

  1. Bookmark and paste the URL of your article into the box.
  2. Use the extension (bookmarklet) which you can also add to your bookmarks toolbar. Click on it when viewing the article you want to access and you’ll get an Open Access Button pop-up.

If the Open Access Button is able to locate an open access version of the article, you'll see a blue PDF icon.

If not, this type of screen will appear, allowing you to request the article with its author.


You'll be asked to briefly state the reason why you need access to the article and hopefully the author will respond to the request by depositing their article in an institutional repository. When they do you’ll be informed per email that the requested article is available.

Adapted from Lizzie Sparrow at the A.G. Leventis Library & Information Service.