Search guide for open access publications

Go to: Search engines  Publication archives  Browser add-ons and extensions  Materials on UEF Primo  Finnish sources

Open access publications can be read online free of charge by anyone

Open access material includes studies that were originally published openly and publications that were originally paywalled, but later made openly available via a publication archive, for example.  

Articles, in particular, are published openly

According to a study published in 2017 (van Leeuwen et al.), as many as 30–40% of the articles published in EU member states are open access publications (the study covers the years 2006–2016). However, open access publication did not become prevalent until the 21st century, due to which the majority of scientific knowledge is still paywalled.

Open access publications include:

  • OA journals (scientific and trade journals, journals published by scientific societies)
  • individual articles in scientific journals subject to a charge that are published as open access articles
  • articles, theses (some) and other publications stored in publication archives
  • publications by public research institutions and the authorities

OA = Open Access

An EMBARGO means a delay in open access publication, during which the publication is only available to subscribers/members. Embargoes can be imposed on articles saved in publication archives, among others.
Please refer to the open publishing terminology page for more terminology related to open publishing.

Use of OA content on the university campus and in teaching

While working on the university’s campuses, you have access not only to open access material, but paywalled material as well (which is paid for by the university library). As a campus user, it may be difficult to identify which articles are genuinely open access and which are paywalled, as access rights in the university network are verified based on the computer’s IP address. This should be taken into account when linking publications to learning materials or other material, for example. Creating a hyperlink is a convenient way to use open access publications. Other utilisation of open publications is subject to the same copyright regulations as all other publications. Read more: The ABC of Copyright.

You should not limit your information retrieval to open access material only if you have access to other publications as well. Instead, you can utilise open access material and open access search engines alongside other information retrieval methods.

Outside of the campus network, paywalled publications can only be accessed by logging in to UEF-Primo. Doing so requires a UEF user account, which means that remote access is only given to university staff and students.  However, campus libraries are open to the public, which means that anyone can come to the libraries and access their material, including paywalled content.

OA Information retrieval tools

You can approach open access publications in one of two ways: by tracking down open access versions of publications that you have already found or by using search engines/databases specifically designed for retrieving open access publications.

Search engines

Service name Purpose Notes


(Bielefeld Academic Search Engine)

Wide range of different publication types (articles, learning materials, images, etc.) Multidisciplinary.

Versatile search capabilities and search result filters.
Entire text available for approx. 60% of search results.


(Collection of Open access Research papers)

Scientific articles from journals and publication archives. Multidisciplinary.



Scientific articles, theses, posters and patents. Only searches for PDF files. Multidisciplinary Versatile search capabilities.
OSF Preprints Retrieves articles from several preprint archives simultaneously. Multidisciplinary.  

Google Scholar

Research papers, thesis, presentations, books, abstracts, conference publications and articles produced by academic publishers, communities, universities and other research organisations. Google’s search engine specialising in scientific content. Some of the material is not open access.
Also includes materials other than actual scientific information.
DART-Europe E-theses Portal

Theses and dissertations from hundreds of European universities.

Search results can be filtered by country, language, etc.


For more discipline-specific search engines and material, please refer to the Discipline-specific services page.

No search engine – not even Google – can find all the content on the Internet. Some content is located in the so-called deep web, the content of which search engines cannot utilise. Deep web content includes services that require licensing and/or registration, such as paywalled scientific databases.

Search engines and services specialising in OA material are effective at accessing deep web material as well.

Publication archives

Publication archives can be searched by subject matter and author, for example, or browsed by collection.


Directory of Open Access Repositories
International publication archive search. You can search/browse publication archives by country or organisation, for example, but not the actual publications contained within the archives.

Browser add-ons and extensions

There are also browser add-ons and extensions available that track down open access articles. Add-ons and extensions are available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. They are installed via the browser’s settings.

Name of add-on/extension Use Other functions


Searches for article information in databases (such as Scopus, Pubmed, ScienceDirect and SpringerLink), search engines and journal publishers’ websites. Automatically displays a green Unpaywall icon in the right corner of the browser window if the article is available in an open access archive. Does not find articles that do not have a DOI.  
This applies to articles in the fields of the arts and the humanities, in particular.

Open Access Button

Look for an article’s information via a search engine, journal publisher website or database and click on the extension icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser. This will open a new window displaying the article if it is available as open access material.

By logging in to the service, you can send the author of an article a request to have the article saved in a publication archive, for example, if an open access version of the article is not yet available.


Google Scholar Button

When you notice the title of an interesting article in a text, select it and press the extension icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser. The extension does not open the article directly, but displays a reference for it in a Google Scholar window. From there you can search for an open access version of the article.

Clicking the icon provides you with a reference in your preferred citation style. You can also transfer the reference to reference management software, such as Refworks.


You can also search for individual articles by title on regular search engines, such as Google. Please note, however, that regular search engines do not directly show you whether the article is open access.


Open access material on UEF-Primo

(Directory of Open Access Books)
Scientific peer-reviewed books in different fields from various publishers, such as Bloomsbury Academic, Brill, Cambridge UP, CRC Press, the Finnish Literature Society, Frontiers Media, MDPI, Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge and Springer. The directory contains approx. 20,000 books from over 300 publishers.

(Directory of Open Access Journals)

Thousands of open access scientific journals. The most extensive international directory of open access scientific journals. Also includes a search functionality.
Open Book Publishers OBP is an academic book publisher whose electronic books are open to all public. Because UEF is a support member of OBP, accessing the service through UEF-Primo results in getting no donation requests by the service.
Publishers’ own databases that include open access material Articles and/or books. Including BioMed Central, BMJ, Brill, Wiley, JSTOR, Oxford UP, Public Library of Science, Sage, Taylor & Francis and U.S. National Library of Medicine. There is some overlap in content with DOAJ and DOAB, for example.


Books and journals included in DOAB, DOAJ and other services can be found individually on UEF-Primo. It is possible to search for journals alone via the Journal search. You can also search for individual articles on UEF-Primo by title or author.

Finnish sources

National Finna Finland’s national bibliography, library material, Finnish articles, theses. Some links to open access material. Search can be limited to online material only.
Juuli portal All publications of Finnish universities and research organisations from 2012 onwards. Search can be limited to open access material only or based on the type of publication. Open access scholarly journals and annals. New articles may be embargoed. Simple search and browsing by journal.
Finnish publication archives

Included in DOAR:

  • Universities’ own publication archives
  • VALTO: publications of ministries
  • DORIA: some research institutes, among others
  • HELDA: University of Helsinki, also includes publications of cooperation partners (agencies and research institutes)


Finna and Juuli are not dedicated open access search engines. However, they provide an expansive overview of Finnish sources and also include links to open access material.