Blog Open Access Week 2021: Tools and Tips for Researchers

This week, we spotlight advice for researchers that can help make science open and accessible for all, courtesy of our Library and Data Management team. 

Why Open Access?

At CGIAR and The Alliance, our research aims to benefit as many people as possible, for the highest impact. A critical aspect of this is ensuring free and open publications, tools, resources, and other outputs; for example, on CGSpace

International Open Access Week occurs every October to highlight the importance of free, equitable access to research and information. This year's theme is “It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural Equity”. 

Open Access Tools

Here's a common scenario: you come across an interesting paper that you want to read, but you're not able to access it because it is behind a payment wall.

Well, the good news is that there are specific tools that you can use to see if a free, open access version of the same paper exists. These tools are very easy to use, completely legal, and do not infringe copyright or publisher policies.


Unpaywall is an open database with more than 21 million free scholarly articles. The articles come from more than 50,000 publishers and content repositories. These articles can be easily accessed by downloading the Unpaywall browser extension for your Chrome or Firefox browsers.

Open Access Button

The Open Access Button was launched in 2013, and it harvests public repositories with the aim of making publicly funded research accessible to all. It is a free, open-source tool that can be used online via the website or as a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox.


CORE is the most comprehensive aggregator harvesting from institutional, subject and preprint repositories as well as gold and hybrid open access journals. Its mission is to aggregate all open access research worldwide and deliver unrestricted access for all. Presently CORE contains over 200,000,000 open access articles collected from 10,322 data providers around the world.

For Open Access week, Alliance staff address commonly asked questions. 


Do I need permission to adapt copyrighted work? Yes! Authors need to ask permission.

What does "Fair Use" refer to? Under the doctrine of "fair use," the law allows the use of portions of copyrighted work without permission from the owner. This is an area that is usually treated as a case-by-case situation, but usually comes under 4 main criteria:

  1. The Purpose and Character of the Use
  2. The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
  3. The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used
  4. The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for or Value of the Work