Many publications, be it in high-profile journals, proceedings, book chapters or any other medium, cannot be accessed without subscription alongside substantial costs, even though most of the published work has been financed publicly. I was asking myself if there are options to get legal access to these publications and if so, what these options are.

As a concrete example I would like to give the following. I am searching for the following article that has been published as a book chapter in Molecular Biology that is behind a paywall:


DNA Repair Protocols

Volume 314 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology™ pp 183-199 Quantitative PCR-Based Measurement of Nuclear and Mitochondrial DNA Damage and Repair in Mammalian Cells

Janine H. Santos, Joel N. Meyer, Bhaskar S. Mandavilli, Bennett Van Houten

What possibilities are there to get access to this?

  • $\begingroup$ You have all the information ready to easily find it. Is a paywall the problem? If so, probably nobody will infringe copyright (be it ethically valid or not) here and you should try to get access by your/an institution/library or contact one of the authors to see if they are willing to share their work. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2016 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ This is not really a question. $\endgroup$
    Jul 12, 2016 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question for making it interesting for many biologists. It, of course, is not a question about biology per se but is still relevant to many, if not all, biology researchers. In a way it is about techniques that biologists have to deal with in their research life. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2016 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


There are several ways you can try to get legal access to publications that are not open access.

First, and most simple, subscribe to the medium or pay for the single publication. This is usually very expensive, so you might want to look for other ways.

Second, you can try to get access by your/an institution by logging in over your institutes network. They might have access to publications from that medium. If not, ask your institution if they can get that access (some libraries offer this based on requests).

Third, go to a public library or a university library and see if they have access to the medium. If so, you can register to the library and then have access as a library member. There might be fees involved but these should be substantially lower than paying for the article directly.

Fourth, you contact one of the authors to see if they are willing to share their work, either as copyright holders or in form of drafts/pre-prints (in that case you should write to the corresponding author, the last author or the first author, maybe include all these three to your email as cc).

This leads to fifth, look at pre-rint servers like the bioRxiv, maybe you are lucky and the publication has been put there by the authors.

Sixth, closely related to four and five, look for the authors on scientific networks like Research Gate. Many scientists share their public articles there or allow requests for sharing their work.

In your special case example you are lucky ... You can find the first author (Janine H. Santos) on Research Gate and she has the article downloadable. If your are not a member you can register without fee and just download the article.


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