Frequently Asked Questions
- 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, subject to annual review.
- 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.
- 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 2 year pilot to better understand our users, and therefore enhance the service accordingly
- 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.
- 15million + articles are already available.
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.
You can view article abstracts from home, but you will only be able to download the full version by visiting your local participating library.
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.
- Access to Research has been 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 started January 2014,is the outcome of this recommendation.
- Access to Research is the result of a successful collaboration between publishers, represented by the Publishers Association, and librarians, represented by the Society of Chief Librarians.
- The initiative has been led and implemented by the Publishers Licensing Society, while the search delivery software, Summon, has been provided free of charge by ProQuest.
- 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.
- 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.
- Over 10 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.
- 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.
Terms & Conditions of Use
A: I will only use the publications accessed through this search for my own personal, e.g. non-commercial research and private study
B: I will only gain access to the publications accessible through this search via the password protected Secure Network of the Library on Library Premises;
C: I will not build any repository or other archive using the publications accessed through this search;
D: I will not download onto disc, CD or USB memory sticks or other portable devices or otherwise save, any publications accessed through this search;
E: I will not, forward, distribute, sell or share any publications accessed through this search with any third party, or post the same on any external or public network;
F: I will not adapt, modify, transform or translate any publications accessed through this search;
G: I will not make more than one copy of any publication accessed through this search and I will not remove any attributions and copyright notices from such copy;
H: I will not modify, remove, circumvent or otherwise interfere with any digital rights information;
I: I will not allow the making of any derivative works from any of the publications accessed through this search;
J: I will not copy otherwise retain, store or divert any of the publications accessed through this search onto my own personal systems; and
K: I agree not to rely on the publications accessed through this search as a substitute for specific medical, professional or expert advice.
Click here for the full licence. Please note that this is for UK local authorities to complete on behalf of their libraries.
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
- 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