Web Extension FAQ


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 unpaywall.org and they do all the hard lifting. Having said that, Unpaywall.org 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 unpaywall.org to learn more.

Yes! Unpaywall.org 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 core.ac.uk and openaccessbutton.org.

The folk at apastyle.org 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 ieeexplore.ieee.org and nber.org. 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.

But make sure to check Extension Settings in your browser, as the keyboard shortcut might be taken or might have been reassigned.

Windows / Linux:
ctrl + shift + o

cmd + shift + o

When you select text on a web-page and then ⌃-click / right-click you can select Search XXX for… and this will conduct a search in a scientific search engine. 

In the Settings you can enable searches in other search engines, such as core.ac.uk and Microsoft Academic

The functionality is language agnostic, however the app itself is available in Dutch, English, French & German. If you speak another language and would like to help out with translations, please contact me! 

🔐 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 unpaywall.org. 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 extension, 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 oahelper.org. Here is a list:

core.ac.uk Discovery
– similar to unpaywall.org – 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 unpaywall.org

core.ac.uk Recommender
– to enhance efficiency the call is handled via oahelper.org, but it doesn’t collect personal information

– the call is executed to their server

The key message: you can configure all features in the Settings. Right click the Extension Icon and select Options

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 unpaywall.org’s API an they make that available free of charge, thanks to some really awesome funders, who believe in their mission.

Very little indeed. Chrome & Firefox provide me with some details regarding installation numbers, but that’s about it.

Open Access Available at a different location

You are at the Open Access location

No Open Access copy was found, but you can try to request via openaccessbutton.org

No Open Access and request via openaccessbutton.org ist not possible (i.e. published > 5 years ago), but a Times Cited count is available (from opencitations.net)

Your institution has listed the domain on a list of domains, for which their institutional proxy can provide you with licensed access

Scroll to top