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Library News

Unpaywall and Open Access

Monday 14 December 2020

Topics: Resources

If you have searched the Dag Hammarskjöld Library catalogue recently, you may have noticed a new feature:  the addition of pink PDFs in your results list which link to the full text of open access articles.  This small but mighty new feature was implemented by a team of library staff who have been working to improve the experience of searching the library catalogue.  The new links are supported by the Unpaywall database, a non-profit service that has indexed over 27 million open access scholarly articles.

Open access is an international movement that promotes the free sharing of knowledge in society without barriers.  In practice, promoters of open access seek to increase the availability of free scholarly research online, which too often is locked behind expensive paywalls.  Additionally, journal subscription prices have dramatically outpaced inflation over the past several decades.  This has resulted in an environment where increasingly only the privileged few can access scholarly information. 

The Library strongly supports the open access movement and is committed to making United Nations documents accessible to all.   Access to information is enshrined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has been recognized as a key driver in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Goal 16, target 10 prioritizes public access to information for all, while Goal 10 calls for the reduction of inequalities and inclusion of all.  To promote these goals the library has hosted two conferences on open access in 2018 and on open science in 2019.

The public can search the Library catalogue, but access to paid subscription resources and the print collection is restricted to those affiliated with the United Nations in New York.  To limit your results to publicly available resources, select the open access filter on the left.   Please contact us if you have any questions or if we can assist with your research!