UC Berkeley Library

Alternative access to Elsevier articles

Content section: 

Quick guide: How to access Elsevier articles
Find an open access copy
Request it from the author
Get it from the Library
UC and Elsevier: What you need to know

Quick guide: How to access Elsevier articles

Graphic on alternative access options for articles

Enlarge this graphic: Alternative access to Elsevier articles

Reminder: UC scholars will still be able to use ScienceDirect to access most articles with a publish date before 2019. At some point soon, Elsevier may begin to turn off UC’s direct access to articles with a 2019 publish date and the backfiles of certain journals. For more information, please see:

Find an open access copy

Some authors may have already posted their articles open access (OA), either in the journal, in a repository, on a personal webpage, or on an academic networking website. It is worth checking to see if the article you’re seeking is already online and free of charge by searching its title in Google or Google Scholar.


There are several browser extensions or plug-ins you can install that will search compiled collections of open access articles, as well as search the internet for an open access version of a desired article.

  • Open Access Button (OA Button): From the OA Button’s website, you can enter an article’s URL, DOI (a unique identifier), title, or other information to check for free and legal open access versions. Even better, the OA Button also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions. Once installed, these extensions will automatically search for an open access copy. When an open access copy is not found, the OA Button can contact the author directly.
  • Unpaywall: You can either directly search Unpaywall’s database of millions of open access articles by entering the DOI for an article, or (more easily) install the Chrome/Firefox browser extension, which will point you to any open access versions of paywalled articles you come across online. Unpaywall is also integrated into UC e-Links.

Online repositories

There are a number of very large online repositories into which authors have deposited (or self-archived) copies of their articles. If a repository is well-indexed, merely searching for the article online via Google Scholar should surface the open access deposited copy. Note that some of these repositories contain preprints (the author’s version before peer review).

Note: The UC Libraries do not endorse using Sci-Hub for article access.

Request it from the author

Most publishers allow responsible sharing of your own publications. One way to get an article is to contact an author and ask for a PDF of a preprint. The author’s name and institution (if available) are usually shown on the preview page of the article. Some authors are open to receiving requests for articles via social networking sites where researchers share their work, such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley, and HumanitiesCommons.

Alternatively, you can make a request to the author via Twitter using the hashtag #icanhazpdf with a link to the publication you need.

Get it from the Library

Interlibrary Loan

You can use the request service to access interlibrary loan (ILL); click on "request this from the library" from that page. The UC Berkeley interlibrary loan unit participates in a global resource-sharing network whose mission is to support your research. Members of our interlibrary loan staff are available and happy to assist you. We have a variety of methods to obtain articles for you, including borrowing from other libraries and in some urgent cases purchasing from an article delivery service.

Contact your librarian

If you are having trouble, a UC Berkeley subject librarian can connect you with what you need.


Email us at scholarly-resources@lists.berkeley.edu.

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