Scientific knowledge is proliferating in an unprecedented rate with an increasing number of journal articles and research papers published every year across various disciplines from humanities to medicine and technology. Unfortunately, a sizeable portion of this academic scholarship is locked behind paywalls thus restricting its access to those who can afford to pay.

Several researchers and students are unable to afford the high costs required for access thus crippling their efforts to participate in the generation of quality knowledge. As researchers, our research stands on the shoulders of other researchers. In fact, some of the basic founding principles of human knowledge are interdependence, accumulation, and collaboration. Strip any society of these principles and it becomes implausible for its members to produce quality scholarship.

I know the frustration and disappointment researchers and students feel because of paywall restrictions. I am very familiar with this feeling and I hope the collection of resources I assembled in this post will help alleviate it, even a tiny bit.

The purpose of this post is to provide researchers, students, educators, teachers (and anyone else frustrated with paywall restriction to human knowledge) with a set of open access journals and websites for free scholarly articles and research papers. 

Using these platforms, you will be able to access peer reviewed journal articles, books, and research papers that are available in open access format. Check them out and if you have other suggestions to add to the list, make sure to share with us on our social media channels.


ERIC which stands for the Education Resources Information Center is basically an academic search engine that allows you to search for scholarly literature and research papers published across different peer-reviewed journals and academic periodicals. ERIC uses a rigorous vetting process to index research literature. ERIC offers a handy feature that enables you to filter your search by ‘Full text’ and ‘peer-review’ enabling to access and download research papers for free.

2. SpringerOpen

SpringerOpen features research a wide variety of peer-reviewed research articles spanning different disciplines including social sciences, humanities, science, technology, medicine, economics, biomedicine, chemistry, computer science, psychology, and many more. SpringerOpen publishes peer-reviewed research and makes it available online for free. You can browse its journals by subject or by alphabetical order. Subjects covered include history, physics, psychology, chemistry, computer science, life sciences, mathematics, geography, education, business, law, environment, energy, and many more.

3. Elsevier

Elsevier is another reputable academic publisher that offers various open access resources for researchers, authors, and academic institutions. Elsevier offers overs 600 fully open access journals where researchers can publish or access peer-review articles. Use the site’s integrated search functionality to search for open access journals in your relevant area of research. Access the journal, search through its issues, and when you find the paper you are interested in click to download it in PDF format.

4. SAGE Open

SAGE Open is a peer-reviewed open access journal from SAGE that publishes peer-reviewed journal and review articles making them accessible to the general public for free. Published articles span numerous disciplines across social and behavioural sciences and the humanities. You can browse SAGE Open resources using filters such as most read, most cited, most recent, trending, and collections.


JSTOR is a research and academic platform that provides access to over 12 million journal articles, books, images, and primary sources. Some of these materials are accessible for free. Here is how to find open access academic scholarship on JSTOR. Head over to JSTOR homepage, click on Advanced Search, fin in the boxes with information related to your query and make sure to click on ‘Select An Access Type’ button and choose ‘Content I Can Access’. JSTOR search engine will only return results with open access.

6. ScienceOpen

ScienceOpen is ‘a discovery platform with interactive features for scholars’. ScienceOpen embeds an extensive academic scholarship that includes over 80 million publications and 25k journals. A large part of this scholarship is available in open access format and here is how to find it: visit ScienceOpen, type in your search query in the main search box and click on search. In the search result page, click on Add filter, select open access, and check the box next to it. Hit Search and you will get results with only materials available for free access.

7. Directory of Open Access Journals

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) offers a huge directory of open access journals. DOAJ is basically “a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals”. DOAJ features over 17500 peer-reviewed open access journals spanning different disciplines including social sciences, arts, medicine, technology, science, and humanities.

8. Digital library of the Commons

Digital Library of the Commons, by Indiana University, offers free and open access to a diverse body of academic scholarship including full-text journal articles, research papers, theses and dissertations, and many more. “This site contains an author-submission portal; an Image Database; the Comprehensive Bibliography of the Commons; a Keyword Thesaurus, and links to relevant reference sources on the study of the commons.”