These browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox web browsers can help you to access free and legal versions of resources that you might find hidden behind paywalls. This way, you can find articles that fit your research without having to pay for access or resort to violating copyright or intellecutal property laws.
Unfortunately, the current state of academic publishing and the need of scholars to demonstrate that they are publishing their work in order to attain tenure and promotion at many institutions means that there is a growing market for publishers and journals who operate "pay to publish" and other scams aimed at taking advantage of the pressure put on scholars to publish.
University of Colorado Librarian, Jeffrey Beall maintained a list for serveral years of publishers he believed were practicing predatory behaviors and making resources available that had not gone through adequate review processes. However, it should be noted that Beall received a lot of criticism for this list as some argued it was biased against Gold OA resources and publishers in developing or non-English speaking countries so his list should probably not be taken as the final word but as a reason to investigate your resource a little further.
Another good resource for evaluating journals is the site Think. Check. Submit. Which is an open access source designed to help scholars assess the journals they are publishing in, but the check feature can also be used by readers to assess the journal an article has been published in.
Gratis - Open Access resources made gratis are resources that are freely available to read without having to pay for access. However, they are still protected by copyright laws and can only be reused or repurposed under the same fair use exemptions as non-Open Access resources.
Libre - Open Access resources made libre are also gratis sources, however they are usually also published under a license, such as a Creative Commons License, that allow users other than the original author to reuse or repurpose the resource. Not all libre resources are made equal, however, so you want to make sure you understand the license before you go beyond the bounds of fair use exemptions.
Green - Green Open Access resources are resources that have been published in non-Open Access formats. However, a pre-published version of the article is available in an Open Access location, such as a personal webpage or an Institutional Repository. Generally, these versions of the resource are pretty much identical to the published resource, though they might not look as nice and polished.
Gold - Gold Open Access resources are resources that have been published in an Open Access journal. These are journals that host, publish, and distribute articles at no cost. Once such journals were not so common in academic publishing, however, thanks to the efforts of libraries and authors around the world, more and more publishers are turning closed access journals into Open Access.
What is fair use?
Generally speaking, laws in the United States tend to favor the protection of ownership over intellectual property. As such creators of original material, or a company that has bought the rights to that material, have a lot of control over how their intellectual property can be used. This is good as it allows individuals to be compensated when other people want to use something that someone else created, even if it is something that is easy to recreate, such as writing or drawings, without having to physically possess.
However, there are also circumstances under which protected intellectual property may be reused or repurposed. Under these circumstances the user, rather than the owner, of the material is protected under what is referred to as Fair Use Doctrine.
Below are the factors that a court is likely to take into account when determining if a specific use of copyrighted material is Fair Use or not.
For more information on Fair Use visit the U.S. Copyright Office at copyright.gov
PLEASE NOTE: This is only an introduction to the concept of Fair Use as it is broadly understood for educational purposes. No part of this guide should be misconstrued as legal advice, nor can any librarians at Three Rivers Community College provide legal advice pertaining to Fair Use or any other subject.