Frequently Asked Questions

What is Access to Research?

Access to Research is a service that provides free, walk-in access to more than 30 million academic articles in public libraries across the UK.

Who is it for?

Everyone! It’s a valuable service to students and independent researchers in particular, but all members of the public can use it too.

What’s included?

Subjects covered include the sciences, art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics, philosophy, mathematics and much, much more. A list of participating publishers is here, and a searchable list of available journals is here.

How do I access content?

You can use Access to Research in any participating UK public library. Articles are provided digitally through their publishers’ websites, and are accessed from designated library terminals via a delivery service called Summon. A simple search tool can quickly identify content that is relevant to you.

How do I get the best search results?

Searches can be made using keywords, full or partial article titles, author names, journal, date and more.

Search results can then be refined via tools on the left-hand side of the page. Using quote (“) marks to enter literal phrases can be an effective way to improve a search: for example, compare searching “Richard III”; “Richard the Third”; or ‘ “Richard III” Shakespeare’.

Are Open Access articles included?

Open Access articles are already available to view for free on some journal publishers’ websites, and wherever possible they are included in the collections they provide via Access to Research. Nothing in this service is intended to restrict any existing rights to access and copy OA articles.

Why can’t I access all articles?

Not every article in every journal is available for free access. Some recent articles may be subject to an embargo period, and very old research may no longer be available. When you visit publishers’ websites, you may find links to articles that aren’t included in Access to Research; to view all content included in the service, return to your search results page. If you are trying to view an article and receive a ‘Restricted’ message, please contact us.

Can I use the service from home?

The full Access to Research service is only available within participating UK public library premises, though you can use the search facility anywhere. Details of participating libraries are here.

How did Access to Research start?

Access to Research was launched in response to recommendations from the Finch Group, a committee convened by the UK government to find ways to open up access to publicly funded research. In 2014, major journal publishers responded by granting public libraries a licence to provide free access to their academic articles.

Who is involved in Access to Research?

The services is the result of a collaboration between publishers, represented by the Publishers Association; and librarians, represented by Libraries Connected. It is run by Publishers' Licensing Services. The search and delivery software, Summon, is provided free of charge by ProQuest.

How can librarians and publishers get involved?

For librarians, this Introductory Webinar is the best place to start, and this March 2020 webinar has answers to users’ common questions and advice about promoting the service.

If you would like to sign up, please ask your local authority to opt in to the initiative by emailing us.

You can download a poster to help promote the service to library users here.

Publishers who would like to opt in to the service can do so by emailing us.



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


Access to Research 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

Interview with Rt Hon David Willetts

  • See below 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?

If you have any questions regarding Access to Research please contact:

Supported by

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