This site is about people like you.

  • Would you be better able to do your job if you had more access to research?
  • Are you involved with a charity that’s trying to make the world a better place, but can’t do its best work because the information it needs is behind a paywall?
  • Are you a student who can’t get access to all the information you need for your studies?
  • Do you have a hobby that you enjoy doing, but where you’re hindered by not being able to read the papers you need?
  • Do you, or someone close to you, have a health issue that you be better able to deal with if you could get hold of the latest peer-reviewed research?

Or do you find that because you are able to use open-access research, you’ve been able to do more with your work, charity, studies or hobby?

Then we want to hear from you!

If this is you, please leave a comment below briefly summarising your situation.  (If you’re not already logged into WordPress, you’ll need to fill in your email address: don’t worry, it won’t be displayed to the world).  We’ll get in touch.

Thank you!

17 responses

  1. I operate a commercial publishing firm focusing on open access journals in the medicine and science areas.

    On a personal level I find it humbling to be able to make a small contribution to the open international distribution of the results of research. It has also been rewarding to be able to facilitate discussion on important research such as falsely diagnosed child abuse and its impact on families. One Libertas’ journals published an article on this and it resulted in comments being received from individuals including the father of the young girl who was the subject of the paper (

    We also recently published a supplement on machine learning of sentiment detection in suicide notes. This important research is expected to contribute to greater understanding of suicide.

  2. I’m an advertising designer in my professional life, and I’m a volunteer fossil preparator with a real interest in learning more about paleontology and many related fields. What does access do for me? Not only do I personally gain by challenging my mind, I can and do apply my increased knowledge to be a more effective, creative, and productive volunteer. I frequently run up against online paywalls at many journal sites. There’s little I can learn from abstracts, and I really can’t justify buying access to papers at $30 a pdf download. I very much appreciate having open online access at PLoS One to many excellent papers. While I don’t have mastery of the technical language in papers, it’s a challenge that I’ve mostly been able to overcome using web search and persistence.

    I firmly believe that the ranks of people like me expand as with access to information. Science benefits as it gains “civilian” allies who contribute time, creativity, political support, and even money to their fields of interest. We really need more science literacy and appreciation across all demographics. Open access really does tear down barriers, perhaps more than any other education strategy. Armed with an open internet, more people than ever will be able to participate in scientific interests as amateurs, volunteers, or even just as a growing and more serious audience for the sciences.

    I offer my heartfelt thanks to researchers who participate in open source publishing.

  3. There are many potentially interested interviewees on the comment thread over at George Monbiot’s excellent ‘Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist’ piece for the Guardian. May I suggest someone replies to these people’s messages, to get their attention (PM’s are not allowed on the Guardian forum). These people may be interested in doing a full interview for this website/campaign, judging by their comments, I suspect they’d be more than happy to help.

    1.) Ally Fogg – Journalist contact:

    “…In my occasional forays into writing for CiF and elsewhere, I’ve often wanted to refer to academic articles. If I were to pay for just two or three of them, I would literally be working at a loss. Because I’m not attached to a university, I can’t even get free access to most of them in person…”

    2.) ‘WillyG’:

    3.) David Pavett – Retired Teacher

    “…I have often found when following up references that I hit a financial wall when it comes to reading academic articles. This can’t be right – as GM says, we have paid for this work through our taxes. The means exist to make all this material available to everyone electronically. It is an outrage that private interests have control of the work blocking the rest of us from accessing it…”

    4.) ‘Ellis’:
    “…I recently paid $30 (read only, available for 24 hours) to get access to a tedious, useless piece of tat published in a “learned journal” in the sixties. In any scholarly work of history there are hundreds of references to journal articles, most of them literally inaccessible except through University libraries.

    Everything should be put online…” [Open Access]

    5.) ‘Silverwhistle’ – Independent Researcher

    “…I’m attempting to continue my research and writing despite being in low-paid temp work, sometimes alternating with unemployment. I have a mediæval history article due out next year…”

    6.) ‘Makropulos’ – Independent Researcher

    “…it’s also become prohibitively expensive for any researcher working outside the university sector to access this [JSTOR] material.”

    7.) ‘hisbigal’ – Graduate Student (?)

    “… it would be a lot easier if such to academic journals weren’t so restricted, because the fees for downloading and prinitng are nothing short of extortionate…”

    8.) Mike Brisco – Senior Researcher, Flinders University, Australia

    “…The shift to electronic form, has restricted access, narrowed it, made it harder. Quite the opposite of what we predicted…”

    9.) RichardRemlap – ????

    “…I recently sought on-line for a copy of a scientific article, only to find that I could download it for around $41 from Elsevier. Fortunately I was able to buy a copy from the library of my professional body for around £10. While good for me, not everyone has this option…”

    10.) Ron White – Retired, Independent Researcher

    “…It is quite impossible for me to afford the extortionate charges for access to journal articles…”

    11.) Elliott Bignell –

    “…This has been bugging me for a while, as well. Apart from the sheer cost of accessing original sources, which as a result I rarely get to do, it conflicts with the principle of openness to independent review and replication…”

    12.) ‘windswept’ –

    “…I pay £475 a year for membership of the London Library, and this is mostly so I can use their online electronic library, which includes specialist publications such as George writes about. Accessing articles as a private individual would be unaffordable…”

    13.) Andrew N Holding – Research Scientist, Cambridge

    “…I recall in my PhD the stress of when I couldn’t get an article because my University didn’t subscribe to it. Only to pay for a copy from the British Library and find the whole article worthless as it was a misleading reference…”

    …and I haven’t even finished digging through the whole thread yet. It’s a goldmine of ‘access prevented’ horror stories.

    1. Thanks, Ross, very helpful.

  4. Diane Lester | Reply

    How thrilling to find this website! The ‘dark age’ practices of researchers in publishing their publicly funded work never cease to amaze and frustrate me. I’ve even written an essay on the subject ‘Unshackling basic knowledge’ Policy magazine 2011/12 27(4) 48-52.

    I am a former biomedical researcher who uses the journals in many contexts – as a celiac disease (CD) patient, science writer, biotech investor and just out of personal interest. The knowledge I gained from CD support groups and my own patient experience enabled me to critique gluten detection methods in a paper than has since been widely cited, including by food standards authorities. In preparing the paper, I was mostly unaffiliated with an institution which made it tedious and time consuming to obtain references, hundreds in total (I refuse to pay for journal articles on principle, but obviously couldn’t afford to anyhow).

    I find it ironic when academic administrators say public access to the journals is not necessary because the general public can’t understand them. Don’t they realise many members of the general public have PhD’s these days (they should because they are training the many PhD’s who now find work outside research)? And besides, even academics can’t access the journals properly and they certainly can’t search them by subject in full text. I previously worked at a large extremely well funded university and often encountered paywalls in the peer-reviewed literature.

  5. Henk-Jan van der Molen | Reply

    As a teacher, I strongly support open source knowledge. I myself got the chance to become an IT specialist, because I was able to migrate a program to another platform after looking into the software source. Without the source code available, it would have taken me a lot more time to finish the job.

    Most of the articles I have written since, are based on publicly available research material. I would not easily decide to pay for research material, because I spend a lot of time to create a level of “awareness” on a certain topic. When sufficiently “aware”, I try to formulate a new and interesting question to address. Only after that is finished, I start looking for related research material.
    Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to pay for research material when the question isn’t there yet. Even with a clear view on the topic, I find it difficult to judge how much a certain piece of commercial material would contribute to my research, by reading the abstract alone. So I only use publicly available research material in my work.

    All my articles are publicly accessible and I have posted the links to my online articles on my LinkedIn page. This way, I hope that my work can help others. I personally think that the more scientific material is freely available, the more progress is possible. I hope that more researchers will make their work publicly accessible.
    On the other hand: try to imagine the damage to society when on high schools access to material like the theorem of Pythagoras was restricted!

  6. Thanks a lot to the concept of ‘open access ‘ which is increasingly gaining momentum .This will help ‘in knowledge sharing’ among researchers who don’t have access to the highly priced journals which is a great impediment to the advancement of research.View my way of sharing under references.

  7. I’m a civil servant research scientist, working for the US Government. My institution does not have enough funding to pay for access to the numerous journals we need to use for our professional research – that is, the jobs we are paid to do. The publishers refuse to let our agency negotiate for access, because of its size – they treat each center as if it were its own institution. This means I frequently resort to using Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #ICanHazPDF to enlist the help of my colleagues at other centers and Universities who have access to research libraries.

    1. What a truly ridiculous situation. I’m sorry you have to waste your time like this.

  8. I am a patient with a rare disease – Medullary Thyroid Cancer. When diagnosed back in 1997, I was told that I had perhaps 5-10 years. Thankfully, the prognosis was incorrect, as none of the oncologists could provide information on MTC. I found only a few articles on MTC that were published in Medical Journals, though inaccessible to me as a patient, as they were paywalled.
    At that time, the only option for information was, and mainly still is, self-advocacy. Soon after diagnosis, I joined an online support group consisting of less than 20 patients. Over the years, we’ve relied on one another for information, advice, treatment options, reported side effects, etc. I believe this group had over 2000 members though now at approximately 1014 as many have migrated to a private FaceBook group.
    As most of us are aware, very little, if any research dollars are put toward study of a rare disease as there is an insufficient market for profitability. A few pharmaceutical companies did enter MTC research just 7 years ago when the 1st clinical trial of TK Inhibitor medications began recruitment. Unfortunately, there are few trials for rare diseases and few participating facilities, resulting in a rather steep OOP cost associated with participation or even an initial qualifying ‘visit’. Very little of the clinical trial research results are publicly available. What eventually becomes available is often tweaked – to the coorporation’s benefit – as we’ve seen far too often in the media over the past few years. As a trial participant, I feel that I should be entitled to read the research documents that include all participant data, and not be limited to the “fluff’ data promoting the medication during and after FDA approval process. The claim that “…patients would be unable to comprehend the information contained in the articles and documents…” is just ludicrous. I’d be able to read and comprehend the information much faster than would my oncologist, who, as one commenter noted, is too busy to search and study articles relating to just one of his patients.
    Today, with the increasing number of people diagnosed with thyroid disease, there is one group that deserves mention for providing information for public access and strongly advocating for thyroid cancer research:
    This organization offers more information on thyroid cancer than can be found anywhere else on the internet, awards grants for thyroid cancer research, offers free materials for public distribution by patients or patient-advocates, and sponsors an annual conference with ThyCa “expert” speakers and fundraising events. All of the materials and information on the ThyCa website are publicly accessible.
    If only the medical journals and pharmaceutical companies were as open with their information…..

    1. Thank you, Alicia, for this account. I am so sorry that corporate profits have been put ahead of the health of people like you. I hope you’re aware now of various back-door methods of obtaining the information you need — for example, the #icanhazpdf hashtag on Twitter.

  9. Hi there, I’m a cognitive science PhD student at a medium-sized research university, so I am usually able to get access to articles I need for research. I’m also a patient with narcolepsy and have spent the year since my diagnosis reading the neurological literature to better understand my condition and the treatments for it. I can do this because I’m part of academia and have institutional access to all the relevant journals. (And also because I have the scientific literacy to understand the papers, which is in principle a separate issue, but one that’s directly related to access I think — how could the public achieve scientific literacy without access to science?) I’d be glad to write a post about how valuable it is as a patient to be able to access & understand the science of one’s own health condition, how it has helped me take control of my health and guide myself and my doctors (who other than my neurologist knew about as much as I did about narcolepsy – i.e. nothing) to improve my treatment. Please contact me if this would be a useful contribution to your site.

    1. (Rose is now preparing an article for this site.)

  10. I am a neuroscience PhD. student. I am very passionate about both conducting research and writing software, and I pursue both these interests in as well as outside of academia. I have first-hand experience in how FOS (free and open source) software vastly outperforms closed-source solutions – especially in science-related contexts, where it enables researchers to more critically appraise one another’s work (protocols, analysis, etc.). It is baffling to me that research itself continues to be managed via a closed-source model which it is so uniquely unsuited for.

    I regularly blog about science and technology related matters (on, and while I find it easy to link to good documentation and discussions about the inner workings of software, I find my science outreach efforts nipped in the bud by the fact that I can scarcely provide accessible references for in-depth articles on current research. I would also be happy to contribute to your site with an article about my plight for FO (free and open) science based on the success story of FOS software (some of my thoughts, in a constructive format:

    1. (I have emailed chymera to arrange an interview for the site — hopefully coming soon!)

  11. I am a Pilates Instructor constantly trying to increase my knowledge about the human body, movement and dysfunction. New research challenges old ways of thinking about the body and how it works. Most of the studies I want to read are inaccessible to me. For instance, there are articles concerning the role of the Transverse abdominis and Psoas in relieving low back pain. I can read other people’s interpretations of these studies, but I would like to read them myself and form my own opinions. I gained experience in reading research papers while obtaining my two BS degrees and Master degree. It is wrong to assume that the “average” person cannot understand these articles.

  12. Further to COVID-19-related work force restructuring, I am unexpectedly on the job market after working as a museum library director. During a time of minimal control, it’s important for me to control what I can, such as submitting book reviews to journals to keep my CV active. Among the titles I’m reviewing, some are open access and some are well over $100, which is a luxury not available to all library professionals. The titles that are open access make a significant difference because they allow me to maintain my own scholarship; notably, they also allow me to support others’ scholarship and to contribute to collection development in the library field. The last time I was between library positions, I co-wrote my first peer-reviewed article but I couldn’t afford to pay the hybrid journal’s fee to make it open access; I regret the decision, because it has only been cited once (although the citation was very favorable in nature). OA is vital and I hope anyone on the fence will consider its importance to professionals in transition, let alone to the public at large.

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