Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Access to Research service?

  • The Access to Research gives free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research in public libraries across the UK
  • On the back of a successful two year pilot (2014-16), the service has now formally been granted permission to continue in the future
  • Subjects include art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences
  • All content provided is digital and can be accessed from your designated library terminal, via a search delivery service called Summon.

Who is the service aimed at?

  • Access to Research is available to the general public, and may be of especial interest to students and independent researchers
  • We have been collecting data throughout the two-year pilot to better understand our users, and therefore enhance the service accordingly

Can I see what academic articles are included?

  • Yes, you can. Visit the Browse all journals page here - you will be able to see what is included within the service in participating public libraries.
  • 15 million + articles are already available.

How do I use the service?

You can access academic articles from Access To Research in participating UK public libraries. Usage of the service is via an online search delivery service called Summon®. Users can search all resources with keywords, view results and access content through the publisher’s website, or refine and narrow the results set.

Six tips for effective searching

  • The software platform, Summon, provides an ‘intelligent’ search interface, similar to a Google search. You can type a combination of author names, article
    title (or some partial words), or subject keywords, and the service should return relevant search results.
  • Whilst Summon tries to match your search, searching academic research journals is always going to be a complex activity, so take a systematic approach.
  • Using quote (“) marks to enter literal phrases can be a very effective way of improving your search. For example, compare searching “Richard III”; “Richard the Third”; or ‘ “Richard III” Shakespeare’.
  • Once a set of search results has been generated, it is possible to refine them by using the tools on the left-hand side of the Summon results page.
  • You can save the journal items that you find by clicking on the small ‘+’ button at the top right of each item in the results list.
  • Searching for information in academic journals may be daunting if you’re not used to it. You need to gradually refine your search and sometimes go back and start again if you’re not getting the results you think you should.

Why was the initiative launched?

  • Access to Research was launched in response to recommendations from the Finch Group, a committee convened by the UK government, to explore how access to publicly funded research could be expanded.
  • One of the main recommendations of the Finch Group was that the major journal publishers should grant public libraries a licence to provide free access to their academic articles. The Access to Research initiative, which began in January 2014, is the outcome of this recommendation.

How can I provide feedback on the service?

Who is involved in Access to Research?

  • Access to Research is the result of a successful collaboration between publishers, represented by the Publishers Association, and librarians, represented by Libraries Connected.
  • The initiative has been led and implemented by Publishers' Licensing Services, while the search delivery software, Summon, has been provided free of charge by ProQuest.

I am a librarian and am interested in finding out more - how do I do that?

The best way is to listen in to our Introductory Webinar. Or, if you already have the servce, a more recent webinar (March 2020) including advice on publicity and user questions. 

Then, if you would like to sign up, please contact your local authority and ask them to opt in to the initiative. They can do this by emailing us here.

If you would like to download a poster to promote the service to library users, click here.

Are more journals going to be added to the service?

  • There are currently more than 11,400 journals included in the service (December 2015). As more publishers continue to join the initiative, even more content will become freely available.

I'm trying to access the service from home - why isn't it working?

  • Access to Research is only available within participating UK public library premises. This is an opt in service so see if your library is participating here.

I know a particular journal is part of the scheme, then why is one of its articles not coming up in the search results?

Publishers often have an embargo period for articles published within a particular date range. If you are unable to find an article, it is likely that it is covered by such an embargo. This is usually for either very old or very new research.

I clicked on the link but the article is not available

  • Over 15 million academic articles are included in the service, and that number is increasing. However, not every article in every journal has been made available for free access.
  • Once you are on a publisher’s website you may well see links to journals and related content that are not included in the service. To view other content included in the service, you will need to return to the Summon search result page.
  • There may on occasion be access issues to content - if you are trying to view an article and it is coming up as restricted, contact us here.

Does the service include Open Access articles?

  • Open Access (OA) articles are already available free to view on some journal publisher websites. Wherever possible, these have been included in the journal collections provided by individual publishers. Nothing in this service is intended to restrict any existing rights to access and copy OA articles.

What are the Terms and Conditions of use?

Terms & Conditions of Use
Registered Users must give the following undertakings in respect of the Licensed Material:

(a) to use for their personal use only i.e. non-commercial research and private study only excluding any Commercial Use and not for any other form of re-use;
(b) to access at all times via the password-protected Secure Network of the Library on Library Premises;
(c) to print or have printed within the Library Premises no more than one single copy of a reasonable part of the Licensed Material maintaining always the author’s name(s) and the publisher’s copyright notice or any other existing means of identification.
(d) not to build any repository or other archive;
(e) not to save including by means of downloading onto discs, CDs or USB memory sticks or other portable devices;
(f) not to copy, forward, distribute, sell or share with any third party or post on any external or public network;
(g) not to alter, adapt, modify, transform or translate;
(h) not to remove any attributions and copyright notices;
(i) not to modify, remove, circumvent or otherwise interfere with any digital rights information;
(j) not to suffer or permit the making of any derivative works from any of the Licensed Material;
(k) not to copy onto their own systems or otherwise retain, store or divert any of the Licensed Material; and
(l) to acknowledge that the Licensed Material is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, a substitute for specific medical, professional or expert advice.

Terms and Conditions for Licencees may be found here

*Video* - The 2 year pilot launch and speeches

See below for a video from the launch of the Access To Research 2 year pilot, bringing together librarians, publishers and government bodies in one place to discuss the initiative and promote its uptake across the rest of the UK.

Hear speeches from:

  • Keynote speech: RT Hon David Willetts MP
  • Supporting libraries - Part of a wider plan for 2014: Janene Cox, the Society of Chief Librarians
  • Collaboration and realisation: Sarah Faulder, CEO of the Publishers Licensing Society
  • Summon, the search delivery service - showcasing the service: Phill Hall from ProQuest

*Video* - Interview with Rt Hon David Willetts

  • Selow for a short Q&A with Rt Hon David Willetts MP on where the initiative has come from, his views on open access, and the future for the pilot
  • Another video with all our speakers and event footage is coming soon

Any questions?

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Supported by

Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers The Publishers Association ProQuest The Society of Chief Librarians OCLC