A lot of internet users often find themselves in an awkward position while browsing online content. Many sites hide their content behind a paywall, forcing visitors to make a small payment. Unpaywall is a new project that solves a lot of problems, as this web browser extension provides users with free full-text versions of research articles.
Unpaywall is An Intriguing Browser Extension
It is becoming increasingly difficult to monetize written content on the Internet. The traditional advertising business model is still profitable, yet given the number of visitors relying on ad blockers, a new solution has to be found. Putting a paywall in place is not necessarily the best course of action, although it is often considered to be the fairest solution for everybody.
That being said, not everyone is looking to pay to read an article, especially not when it is a research article. This is why the Unpaywall project has been created, as it allows anyone to bypass paywalls related to research literature. This browser extension is compatible with both Chrome and Firefox browsers and will provide users with a free full-text version of the content.
Powering this browser extension is an open index of over ten million open access resources. In about half of the cases, the browser extension will find a free full-text copy of the research content. That is quite a remarkable feat, albeit not a perfect solution either. More recent content has a higher chance of success compared to papers dating back years or even decades, though.
For anyone looking for research articles, Unpaywall is an excellent solution well worth checking out. Journalists, high school students, and even policymakers can reap the rewards from bypassing paywalls through a legal alternative. Subscription access to fact-based research literature is not something most people possess, which makes this plugin more than valuable to this particular crowd.
Unfortunately, Unpaywall cannot be used to bypass paywalls for more traditional content. News sites using paywalls and subscription-based services will still remain inaccessible. However, it is not unlikely similar browser extensions will be developed to bypass those restrictions as well. In fact, one could argue internet users are more likely to financially contribute once they have seen the content and its added value.
In the end, it is good to see initiatives like Unpaywall come to fruition. It is of the utmost importance to make information freely accessible, whether it is news or research content. It is understandable content needs to be monetized, yet not everyone will always pay for everything they want to read. Viable alternative solutions, such as Unpaywall, are direly needed, that much is certain.
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