As you may already know, this week is Open Access Week, a week devoted to “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research,” and Harvard is hosting a number of events in recognition of this important goal (you can find the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communication website).
One way you can advocate for Open Access now and in the future (while simultaneously helping your own research) is to start using Open Access Button. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, you can click on it every time you encounter an academic work that is behind a paywall. Pushing the button (which works in all browsers and also offers a Chrome plugin and a Firefox extension as well as a version for use on Android devices) will automatically search for a free version of the paper that you can access immediately and, if such a version is not found, will automatically contact the author about accessing the paper. If you can’t access the work immediately, your story will be collected and added to the list of stories used by Open Access Button to advocate for changes in the publishing approach for academic works. It is important to note that Open Access Button will make information about your use of the button publicly available, but this information will help to show the importance of Open Access in academia and just might help you find Open Access versions of scholarship you need.
Are you a developer? Open Access Button is licensed under an open source software license and all of their code is available on GitHub. Check out their For Developers page to learn about how you can contribute to the project.