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Where can anyone get free scientific articles legaly?

The business models of publishers vary widely, and depending on their openness; some publishers provide access to scientific articles immediately after publication, and some at a specific time interval. The cost of one article from a paid publisher reaches $150, which is not so small compared to the size of a scholarship from a graduate student.

Now for researchers, the question of finding the full texts of scientific articles is quite acute. Subscriptions to leading scientific journals are expensive and, unfortunately, not even all leading universities have. But there is no need to despair because there are a considerable number of ways to get the full texts of articles entirely legally and for free.

1.     Unpaywall

One of the most convenient tools for open access is an extension for the Chrome and Firefox Unpaywall browsers. It automatically searches for the full texts of scientific articles. If you go to the page of a publication, an icon with the lock depicted on it appears on the right of the screen. If it is green and the lock is open, then click on it and you will automatically be taken to a page with the full text of the article in PDF format. You can install the extension on its website.

2.     Google Academy

Another site that can help is Google Academy. You write the title of the article in the search bar and read the full text. If it, of course, is in the public domain.

3.     Open Access Button

If neither Unpaywall nor Google Academy helped you, the Open Access Button website might come in handy. The large magic button will cope with the search for the desired article.


This site was created specifically to solve the problem of open access to materials. On ArXiv, scientists post preprints of their articles, that is, drafts, which eventually publish with some changes. Most authors are mathematicians and physicists, but now, on the initiative of the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Foundation, an analog for biology and other natural sciences - BioRxiv is being developed.

5.     CyberLenink

The CyberLeninka Scientific Electronic Library is the most extensive collection of scientific articles in Russia, mainly in Russian, although there are foreign publications.

6.     eLibrary library

On this site are laid out articles and scientific papers included in the RSCI (Russian Science Citation Index). Registration is required, and you may be asked to provide a unique password for your organization. Your profile saves your search settings and your article collections.

7.     Digital libraries collaborating with universities

Many universities still have subscriptions to various scientific journals. They conclude agreements with electronic libraries, for example, with the electronic library “University library online” or IQ Library.

Find out which library your university collaborates with and how to access it. For example, at Moscow State University, access to all university subscriptions is automatically activated if you are looking for an article in a computer class or through the MSU’s Wi-Fi network.

8.     Russian State Library (RSL)

The RSL has an electronic catalog where you can find not only articles but also dissertations and monographs on various topics. Unfortunately, not all works are in electronic form, but there is a function in the catalog “vote for translating the necessary book or article into electronic form.” The timing, unfortunately, is unknown.

9.     Article authors or fellow scientists

If nowhere on the above resources can find an article, you can try to write directly to the authors or their colleagues and ask for the full text. In the scientific world, this is a fairly common practice. And there are two worked out methods: write a post on Twitter with the hashtag #icanhazpdf and indicate which article you are looking for and where to send it to, or register on the Research Gate website, find the necessary article in the author’s profile and click on the “ask for full text” button. Most often, authors respond within a week and send the file to the mail specified in the profile. By the way, in this case, the article can even be discussed with the author himself. A similar resource, but more popular among scientists working in the field of social sciences and humanities, is There often you don’t even have to ask for anything - articles, preprints, reports, and even chapters from books can be downloaded directly from the researcher’s profile.

10.                        Specialized databases

In addition to the resources listed above, there are various specialized databases of full-text articles, here is a list of the largest of them:

1. PubMed

The base is mainly on medicine and biology; sometimes, it contains links to full free articles.

2. Jstor

An extensive database of English-language articles, journals, and scientific papers on a wide variety of topics.

3. MedLine

Largest bibliographic database of articles in the medical sciences (NLM). Integrated into the SciFinder service.

4. Psyjournals

A site with electronic versions of psychological journals.

5. SciFinder

The most complete and reliable source of chemical information, covering more than 99% of the current literature on chemistry, including patents. Also, there you can find information on biological and biomedical sciences, chemical physics, engineering.


English-language database with articles and scientific publications on psychology from around the world.

7. Frontiers

Frontiers make collections of articles on various topics and make them publicly available.

8. HEP Search

High Energy Physics Database.

What resources do you know about reading scientific articles for free? What do you use yourself?