Open Access Week 2021 – Free Research Resources LibGuide

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Open Access week 2021

Recently, the University of Reading Library launched a LibGuide about free, Open Access resources. This project aligns closely with this year’s theme for International Open Access Week, as the LibGuide is designed for our diverse, alumni community and researchers anywhere to use to achieve their future goals.

What inspired us to create the guide?
On leaving the University, graduates will no longer have access to subscribed resources since most research is behind a paywall. This applies to anyone in the world who does not have access to an academic library or cannot afford expensive subscription fees. We understand that learning is for life. People may wish to carry out research to help better themselves, their work, and their community. One of the benefits of Open Access is that members of the public can acquire research which their taxes have funded. However, they may not know where to look or what is freely available legally. It is also a real possibility that they will not be local to the University or to any academic library. To remedy this, the Library’s Research Group, comprising of experts from across the Library and University Museums and Special Collections, created a new LibGuide to free, online Open Access resources. Our guide brings together a recommended selection and continues the Library’s relationship with our alumni.

What’s in the guide?
We share our knowledge of finding academic articles, books and other resources useful for research. Our LibGuide brings together available resources from the University Library and external, wider sources. All of the resources that we highlight are available to read online or download for free.

We have kept the LibGuide’s style consistent, so that alumni who are familiar with using Library support resources can navigate with ease. The homepage advises users to make use of the key sections to explore by type of resources. We have defined what Open Access is and how users can tell if a resource they are reading is Open Access. We have provided links so that users can find out more about the history and current developments within Open Access as well as further information about Creative Commons licenses.

The LibGuide has been split into six sections:

The LibGuide on free research resources from University of Reading

“E-books” – The guide links to some of the main providers of free online books (including Project Gutenberg, Hathi Trust, Google Books, DOAB, and OAPEN Library).

“Journal articles” – As many repositories are indexed by Google Scholar, this can be an excellent starting point for finding Open Access articles. The guide includes some of the best browser extensions available to download so that users can access research behind paywalls. There are links to preprint servers (including ArXiv and SSRN) and academic social networks (ResearchGate and, as many researchers are eager to share their work openly. The “Access to research” service has been featured. It is available in many public libraries, through which users can access articles for free on library computers.

“Other Material” – This section is dedicated to finding other resources such as theses, images, film, audio, primary sources, maps, and data. Sites such as the University of Reading Museums and Collections Virtual Reading Room allow exploration of high quality galleries of items from the University’s special collections, art collections and Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL). For users looking for information on particular topics, users can use links to access our Subject guides, as they often include links to free resources.

University of Reading Library

“Libraries”– The guide has advice for visiting libraries (subject to Covid-19 government guidance), including the University of Reading Library, The British Library, as well as legal deposit (e.g. Bodleian Library and Cambridge University Library), and public libraries. Users are advised to use catalogues like WorldCat and Jisc Library Hub Discover to find out which particular resources academic libraries have before they visit. For historical, unique or rare materials like manuscripts, there are links to special databases (including Archives Hub and the ESTC).

“Referencing” – In this section, there is a link to a LibGuide on citing references. Links for key referencing tools are included (such as Mendeley, EndNote, and Zotero), so that users can store details of useful resources that they find.

“Alumni” – In this final section, there is guidance for the University’s alumni community if they wish to visit the Library and borrow physical resources (subject to Covid-19 government guidance).

How does the LibGuide build structural equity?
Sharing resources and knowledge with the public fits with the University of Reading’s strategy of engaging with our wider community, in order to have a positive impact. Our LibGuide goes further than simply highlighting the number of academic books and articles which are free to access and download without an inconvenient and unaffordable paywall. It facilitates access to knowledge for everyone, contributing to the building of a fair and equitable research landscape. The guide is well-used; since it was first launched in summer 2021, it has received over 1,000 views. It provides an opportunity for continuing lifelong learning and developing new knowledge.

·        Explore the guide here:

This post was adapted by Chloe Bolsover from an article featured in CONNECTED, the magazine for alumni at the University of Reading. Link to article:

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