Open Access to Scholarly Literature (Including Procurement and Supply Chain Management) Gets a Boost Thanks to Disruptor Unpaywall

“We’re setting up a lemonade stand right next to the publishers’ lemonade stand…They’re charging $30 for a glass of lemonade, and we’re showing up right next to them and saying, ‘Lemonade for free’. It’s such a disruptive, exciting, and interesting idea, I think.”

This quote (McKenzie) by Unpaywall creator Jason Prien captures the essence of the disruptive nature of the open access movement in academia, which includes forward thinking, scholarly publications in the business, supply chain management and procurement disciplines.

Unpaywall, released April 4, is a free browser plug-in that links you to free fulltext articles as you browse. It is powered by an index of over ten million legally-uploaded, open-access resources. Users report they are able to read around half of them for free “even without any subscription, and even though most of them were paywalled” (website). I added the extension and have been testing it as well, and am finding roughly the same average.

It’s incredibly ease to use. Basically once you have installed the plug-in, a tab with an image of a lock appears to the right of the retrieved article. If it is green, open access is available. You just click on the tab and read the document. If the article is not available via open access (still behind a paywall), then the tab is gray with a closed lock.

Nonprofit Impactstory is behind the effort and is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Impactstory gathers content from thousands of open-access repositories worldwide, relying on a number of data sources, including PubMed Central, the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals), Crossref, DataCite, Google Scholar, and BASE. After they put all this data together, they make it open for reuse via the oaDOI API (website).

It is advantageous for procurement and supply chain management professionals to include scholarly reading in their professional development activities. Many ideas first introduced in academic journals are eventually brought forth later in successful business books. Thanks to Unpaywall, getting access to a larger number of research articles is easier than before. I’ll drink (a glass of lemonade) to that!



McKenzie, Lindsay. “How a Browser Extension Could Shake Up Academic Publishing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 6, 2017.

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