Frequently Asked Questions

The orange icon indicates that the app has identified an Open Access version at a different location. Click the icon to go to the Open Access document. Example .

To be honest, I don’t. The app uses the API of and they do all the hard lifting. Having said that, harvests content directly from over 50,000 journals’ open-access repositories from all over the world. They also use great open data from PubMed Central, the DOAJ, Crossref (particulary their license info), and DataCite. Visit their website at to learn more.

Yes! harvests content from legal sources including repositories run by universities, governments, and scholarly societies, as well as open content hosted by publishers themselves. They do not harvest from sources of dubious legality. If you ever encounter content indexed by Unpaywall that is posted in violation of copyright, let them know and they’ll remove it immediately.

This is also true for and

The folk at have a great explanation, but in short. A DOI or Digital Object Identifier is a unique identifier designed to provide a persistent link to the location of a document. For what this app does, the key is unique, as no two documents can have the same DOI.

I use a number of ways, but the most important is to look at the meta-tags of the page and evaluate those with the name ‘citation_doi’, ‘doi’, ‘dc.doi’, ‘dc.identifier’, ‘dc.identifier.doi’, ‘bepress_citation_doi’, ‘rft_id’, ‘dcsext.wt_doi’, ‘DC.identifier’. The app does an awful lot more, but it will almost never simply “scrape” the page for a DOI. I say almost never, as the app does exactly that for and They really should start using metatags 🙂

If you have the Safari Developer menu enabled, you can open the console to see some debug output, so you know what the app does at any time.

In Chrome & Firefox you can try Shift + Command + O, unfortunately there is none for macOS yet

When you select text on a web-page and then ⌃-click / right-click you can select OA Search for… and this will conduct a phrase search on, which is an awesome (!) Open Access search engine by the University of Bielefeld Library.

In the Settings you can enable searches in other search engines, such as, Google Scholar, Dimensions and others. See here for more information…

🔐 I have chosen a path, which ensures that Open Access Helper collects absolutely no data about you personally!

Having said that, for what the app does to actually work a DOI, my eMail address and your IP is sent to the API of The DOI and my e-Mail are explicitly stated in the request, the IP comes along for the ride as that’s how the internet works.

The app will also follow all OpenAccess links it found, to see whether you might already be at the Open Access location for a document. All of this happens within the App, but every “hop” along the way “sees” your IP, for the same reasons as before.

This might sound scary for a second, but just remember, that the moment you visited any website, your IP had to be known to the webserver, so it could return the requested information to you to view. That’s why I say “that’s how the internet works”. In the case of this server, the last octet of your IP is discarded immediately, as I really don’t need it for anything. Server logs are kept for a few days and then thrown out entirely.

There are some additional integrations, which also call external servers or go through Here is a list: Discovery
– similar to – the app calls their server directly for a recommendation
– by default the app doesn’t use the api, but links to their service
– it is possible to enable api integration, then it behaves much like Recommender
– to enhance efficiency the call is handled via, but it doesn’t collect personal information
– for macOS the call is only made, if you click the recommender icon
– the call is executed to their server

The key message: you can configure all features in the Settings. Open Open Access Helper app > Settings and make the choices that are right for you.

You shouldn’t. I mean, I want you to, but you shouldn’t trust me, just because I say so. Check out the code at GitHub and start with these two files:

  1. JavaScript
  2. SafariExtensionHandler.swift

The reason I am so open about the code is easy. I don’t make a penny off this app, so I have nothing to gain by not sharing. I believe transparency to be really, really important here, as the app potentially has a lot of access, which it doesn’t use, but it could. Thus if I share what I do, you have a means to know exactly what is happening. If you can’t make sense of this, speak to someone, who does. But maybe the fact that I show what I do, might already help you feel a bit safer. By the way nothing in the code would work, if it wasn’t for’s API an they make that available free of charge, thanks to some really awesome funders, who believe in their mission.

Apple tells me how many people, from what country downloaded the app and that’s the extend of what I know. If you drop me an eMail, I’ll know a little more 😉 Maybe you have a great feature idea, some constructive critizism or want to help out?! In either way, I would love to hear from you…


Starting with Safari 14 the extension icon will be blue, whenever the extension has access to the current page.

For Open Access Helper to work it needs access to the page, to identify a DOI and do its job. I don’t do anything else on the page, that’s a promise and you can take a peek at GitHub to confirm that for yourself, if you’d like.

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