by the STC team
Here's an Easter Egg for you! No, not of the tempting, chocolate-loaden variety (which wouldn't be enjoyable in a virtual version anyway ) but of that sort computer-addicts know as "... an intentional inside joke, a hidden message, or a secret feature of an interactive work (often, a computer program), ...". It's actually not a joke but a useful little feature you may use while reading about the small things here.
You are used to the way we refer to published scientific papers in our posts by linking, most often, to the PubMed entry (here is an example from one of our recent posts ). We do this by purpose because...
- We think it's important that you, the readers, can scrutinize our work by checking the original literature. We do our best not to spice-up our stories (pun intended ) but you don't have to believe us. We're open to criticism and opposing opinions, and we want to help you to critisize by giving you our sources. Because science.
- PubMed links have a longer half-life than most internet links, so we don't have to update the links in our older posts all too often.
- More importantly for you, PubMed shows the Abstract / Summary of a paper, if available. So those of you who haven't access to a subscription to the respective journal can at least learn what the paper is about.
- Also, since some time PubMed shows links to freely-available versions of the articles (either directly from the publisher of from PMC; here's an example from an earlier post ).
Getting access to free articles has now become a lot easier still, more 'user-friendly', as was explained these days in Nature when introducing the applet 'Unpaywall' (nomen est omen ).
Unpaywall is a (free ) add-on for your browser, for desktop and mobile (Firefox and Chrome ), no matter whether you use Windows, Android, iOS, or OSX. Once installed, it shows you a tiny 'lock' icon on the right side of you browser window indicating by a color scheme whether a free PDF version of the paper is available (green, gold, or blue = available; gray = not available). Click the 'lock' icon and the PDF opens automatically, ready for download. That's all, you're done.
One of us, Christoph, has tested Unpaywall during the last days extensively and it seems to work really well. We would like to note, in addition, that Unpaywall – unlike the widely used and much acclaimed Sci-Hub – exclusively accesses legally open access content, that is, within copyright law. The Unpaywall app was developed by the non-profit company impactstory, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, both trustworthy organizations in our view.
If you should encounter problems with using Unpaywall, please feel free to mention this in the comments section below. We'll try to help you as good as we can...