About Unpaywall

Unpaywall, developed and maintained by the team of OurResearch, is a non-profit service that finds open access copies of scholarly literature by looking up a DOI (Digital Object Identifier). It not only returns open access full-text links, but also helpful metadata about the open access status of a publication such as licensing or provenance information.

Unpaywall uses different data sources to find open access full-texts including:

See Piwowar et al. (2018) for a comprehensive overview of Unpaywall.

Basic usage

There is one major function to talk with Unpaywall, oadoi_fetch(), taking a character vector of DOIs and your email address as required arguments.

roadoi::oadoi_fetch(dois = c("10.1186/s12864-016-2566-9",
                    email = "")

What's returned?

The client supports API version 2. According to the Unpaywall Data Format, the following variables with the following definitions are returned:

Column|Description |:------------|:---------------------------------------------- doi|DOI (always in lowercase) best_oa_location|list-column describing the best OA location. Algorithm prioritizes publisher hosted content (e.g. Hybrid or Gold) oa_locations|list-column of all the OA locations. oa_locations_embargoed | list-column of locations expected to be available in the future based on information like license metadata and journals' delayed OA policies data_standard|Indicates the data collection approaches used for this resource. 1 mostly uses Crossref for hybrid detection. 2 uses more comprehensive hybrid detection methods. is_oa|Is there an OA copy (logical)? is_paratext| Is the item an ancillary part of a journal, like a table of contents? See here for more information genre|Publication type oa_status|Classifies OA resources by location and license terms as one of: gold, hybrid, bronze, green or closed. See here for more information has_repository_copy|Is a full-text available in a repository? journal_is_oa|Is the article published in a fully OA journal? Uses the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) as source. journal_is_in_doaj|Is the journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). journal_issns|ISSNs, i.e. unique code to identify journals. journal_issn_l|Linking ISSN. journal_name|Journal title publisher|Publisher published_date|Date published year|Year published. title|Publication title. updated_resource|Time when the data for this resource was last updated. authors|Lists authors (if available)

The columns best_oa_location and oa_locations are list-columns that contain useful metadata about the OA sources found by Unpaywall These are

Column|Description |:------------|:---------------------------------------------- endpoint_id|Unique repository identifier evidence|How the OA location was found and is characterized by Unpaywall? host_type|OA full-text provided by publisher or repository. is_best|Is this location the \code{best_oa_location} for its resource? license|The license under which this copy is published oa_date|When this document first became available at this location pmh_id|OAI-PMH endpoint where we found this location repository_institution|Hosting institution of the repository. updated|Time when the data for this location was last updated url|The URL where you can find this OA copy. url_for_landing_page| The URL for a landing page describing this OA copy. url_for_pdf|The URL with a PDF version of this OA copy. versions|The content version accessible at this location following the DRIVER 2.0 Guidelines (

The Unpaywall schema is also described here:

The columns best_oa_location. oa_locations and oa_locations_embargoed are list-columns that contain useful metadata about the OA sources found by Unpaywall.

If .flatten = TRUE the list-column oa_locations will be restructured in a long format where each OA fulltext is represented by one row, which allows to take into account all OA locations found by Unpaywall in a data analysis.

roadoi::oadoi_fetch(dois = c("10.1186/s12864-016-2566-9",
                    email = "", .flatten = TRUE) %>%
  dplyr::count(is_oa, evidence, is_best) 

Any API restrictions?

There are no API restrictions. However, Unpaywall requires an email address when using its API. If you are too tired to type in your email address every time, you can store the email in the .Renviron file with the option roadoi_email

roadoi_email = ""

You can open your .Renviron file calling


Save the file and restart your R session. To stop sharing the email when using roadoi, delete it from your .Renviron file.

Keeping track of crawling

To follow your API call, and to estimate the time until completion, use the .progress parameter inherited from plyr to display a progress bar.

roadoi::oadoi_fetch(dois = c("10.1186/s12864-016-2566-9",
                    email = "", 
                    .progress = "text")


Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., … Haustein, S. (2018). The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ, 6, e4375.

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roadoi documentation built on July 29, 2021, 5:07 p.m.