A major chunk of what I write about on this blog is the latest research in interesting fields around workplace life. The academic world produces some fascinating insights, but getting hold of the research papers to review the work is often far from easy.
Whilst there is a substantial movement to make research more open and available, a good number of papers still find themselves paywalled behind the journal that published them.
That typically requires you to go through the lengthy process of talking to the authors and trying to get hold of a copy direct from them. Whilst it’s always nice to talk to academics, it does add some time to the process.
Enter the Open Access Button
The Open Access Button may therefore be something of a saviour. It’s a plug-in that you attach to your browser of choice, and when you get stuck behind a paywall of a paper you’d fancy reading, you click the button, and they do their best to locate the paper in free form somewhere on the web.
The makers suggest that many papers are available online for free, but often lack the formatting and so on that they have when published in journal form, or they may be prior to peer-review.
For instance, they may be on the authors website or in a research repository of some kind. Now of course, you could do this kind of research yourself, which I have on many occasions, but this button pledges to do the leg work for you.
If the button can’t locate a free copy for you, then they do their best to create one for you. This is quite something in its own right, as you can imagine it’s not all that easy to do. It will involve a number of steps:
- Firstly they’ll email the author and see if they’re ok with making the paper available to the public. If they agree, this will then be shared with the community.
- They then create a dedicated web page for that paper, which will hopefully have all of the details about it, and the author can simply add their paper to it.
- The paper will then have some additional information attached to it, such as comments from those that have read it, a summary of facts contained within the paper and so on.
All of which sounds very cool indeed. They’ve got an advocacy page, so if you’re interested in open access research, do please stop by and join the case.