The Sci-hub Effect: Sci-hub downloads lead to more article citations

Abstract:  Citations are often used as a metric of the impact of scientific publications. Here, we examine how the number of downloads from Sci-hub as well as various characteristics of publications and their authors predicts future citations. Using data from 12 leading journals in economics, consumer research, neuroscience, and multidisciplinary research, we found that articles downloaded from Sci-hub were cited 1.72 times more than papers not downloaded from Sci-hub and that the number of downloads from Sci-hub was a robust predictor of future citations. Among other characteristics of publications, the number of figures in a manuscript consistently predicts its future citations. The results suggest that limited access to publications may limit some scientific research from achieving its full impact.

 

#NoFeeScience #MarchForBetterScience

“[This is the English translation of a manifesto originally published for a Francophone audience. The text has been modified slightly to make it more relevant to a global audience. The original text can be read here: https://t.co/CBVuz4Pynf?amp=1 ]

Objective: This “manifesto” is addressed, first and foremost, to fellow scientists and researchers, our peers and colleagues. Certain recent movements, such as #MarchForScience and #NoFakeScience [1, 2], both widely shared and discussed in traditional and social media, have the merit of emphasizing how much we need, not only the trust, but also the cooperation of the general public in order to face the global crises that are defining this present moment in history. However, these movements fail to mention one scientific consensus which the scientific community still cannot, in good conscience, be said to share: the credo that “knowledge belongs to humanity”. For this idea to reach consensus status, it would first be necessary for scientific knowledge to be made fully and freely accessible to one and all.

If you agree with this principle and are prepared to support it, you are invited to add your signature at the bottom of this manifesto. At this precise moment in time, as climate strike movements around the globe are hammering home the fact that we don’t have time to wait for resisters and deniers, that it’s necessary we act now, the same urgency applies to the open science movement: the time to act by reciprocating the trust which we, scientists, require of the general public, the moment to finally open science, is also now! And maybe this idea needs to be hammered home in the media too… ”

Working together to protect from cyber attacks | Research Information

“Nick Fowler and Steven Inchcoombe introduce SNSI [Scholarly Networks Security Initiative], an initiative to solve the cyber challenges facing the scholarly communications industry

Last year the Washington Post and several other media outlets reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) was investigating pirate website Sci-Hub….

Such activities threaten the scholarly communications ecosystem and the integrity of the academic record. Sci-Hub has no incentive to ensure the accuracy of the research articles being accessed, no incentive to ensure research meets ethical standards, and no incentive to retract or correct if issues arise.

As this issue goes beyond that of the illegal accessing of academic research, publishers cannot tackle it alone. We need to work with librarians, university network security officers and others responsible for cybersecurity in academic institutions which is why a new pan-publisher initiative has recently been set up with the purpose of encouraging exactly that. The Scholarly Networks Security Initiative brings together publishers and institutions to solve cyber challenges threatening the integrity of the scientific record, scholarly systems and the safety of personal data. The group will explore, for example, how the dangers related to Sci-Hub use can be included in information literacy and other library outreach programs….

Ultimately a combination of forces are needed to protect institutions from cyber-attacks and to ensure that researchers are presented with the best possible user experience, safe in the knowledge that the work they are accessing is correct, up to date and properly connected to the scientific record. Awareness of the damage Sci-Hub is inflicting on institutions and academia needs to be increased. Law enforcement efforts to address the site’s illegality need to be supported. And publishers need to continue making their platforms more interactive and interconnected so that our communities can access the research we publish how they want to. We need to demonstrate that Sci-Hub is not only harmful to the research community but that it is also redundant.”

Mutinous librarians help drive change at Elsevier | Financial Times

“The company is facing a profound shift in the way it does business, as customers reject traditional charging structures. Open access publishing — the move to break down paywalls and make scientific research free to read — is upending the funding model for journals, at the behest of regulators and some big research funders, while online tools and the illicit Russian pirate-site Sci-Hub are taking readers. Even Donald Trump’s administration in December began consulting on an executive order to “liberate” publicly funded research, according to people briefed on the process….

But its willingness to experiment has increased markedly since Kumsal Bayazit, an Istanbul-born former management consultant, took over as chief executive last year. Admitting Elsevier’s transition to open access was too “slow”, she is now stepping up one of the big evolutions of the company’s history….”

‘It’s a Moral Imperative:’ Archivists Made a Directory of 5,000 Coronavirus Studies to Bypass Paywalls – VICE

“A group of online archivists have created an open-access directory of over 5,000 scientific studies about coronaviruses that anyone can browse and download without encountering a paywall. The directory is hosted on The-Eye, a massive online archiving project run by a Reddit user named “-Archivist.”…

“[Sci-Hub] is illegal, but it’s also a moral imperative,” shrine said….

Shrine and his collaborators searched Sci-Hub for papers from 1968 to 2020 whose titles or abstracts referenced coronaviruses, a group that contains pathogens that cause the common cold as well as MERS and SARS. They then compiled the resulting 5,200 papers, and -Archivist, who previously told Motherboard that his first name is John, uploaded the resulting archive to The-Eye….

While shrine said that he respects the publishers’ decisions to take down paywalls to their research, he questioned the timing of the announcements, weeks into the outbreak.

“You have to wonder—what would’ve been possible if they had done this earlier?” he said….”

What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020 – Against the Grain

“Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.

In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media….

Although the [Plan S] coalition has managed to gain some international members, the overall response to Plan S has been lukewarm outside of Europe. India’s government, for example, decided to forgo joining the coalition and develop its own national effort to advance open access, despite earlier indications that it would be joining the group. In Latin America, where Argentina has joined cOAlition S, academics have raised concerns about the initiative’s focus on pay-for-publishing models. One worry is that if funders or universities are required to cover fees for publishing open access in commercial journals, financial resources could be diverted from their current system, under which journals are free to publish in and free to read—and scientific publications are owned by academic institutions….”

Universities ignore growing concern over Sci-Hub cyber risk

“According to The Washington Post, Elbakyan, nicknamed the Robin Hood of science, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected criminal acts and espionage.

Elbakyan denies any wrongdoing, but scholarly publishers such as Elsevier have used news of her investigation to call on academic institutions to block access to Sci-Hub — not because the site is illegal, but because it poses a security threat. Several large publishers, including Elsevier, have successfully sued Sci-Hub for mass copyright infringement in recent years. The Sci-Hub repository contains more than 80 million research articles, including a large proportion of Elsevier’s catalog….

PSI, a company based in Britain that offers tools and services to protect scholarly copyright, maintains a list of web addresses associated with Sci-Hub, which institutions can download and use to block access to the site on campus.

Andrew Pitts, CEO and co-founder of PSI, said that so far, few U.S. institutions have downloaded the block list. Pitts, who has been writing about Sci-Hub’s links to Russian military intelligence for several years, said he struggled to understand why universities are not taking more immediate steps to protect their networks. “This is a matter of urgency,” he said….”

Universities ignore growing concern over Sci-Hub cyber risk

“According to The Washington Post, Elbakyan, nicknamed the Robin Hood of science, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected criminal acts and espionage.

Elbakyan denies any wrongdoing, but scholarly publishers such as Elsevier have used news of her investigation to call on academic institutions to block access to Sci-Hub — not because the site is illegal, but because it poses a security threat. Several large publishers, including Elsevier, have successfully sued Sci-Hub for mass copyright infringement in recent years. The Sci-Hub repository contains more than 80 million research articles, including a large proportion of Elsevier’s catalog….

PSI, a company based in Britain that offers tools and services to protect scholarly copyright, maintains a list of web addresses associated with Sci-Hub, which institutions can download and use to block access to the site on campus.

Andrew Pitts, CEO and co-founder of PSI, said that so far, few U.S. institutions have downloaded the block list. Pitts, who has been writing about Sci-Hub’s links to Russian military intelligence for several years, said he struggled to understand why universities are not taking more immediate steps to protect their networks. “This is a matter of urgency,” he said….”

Sci-Hub users cost ASA journals thousands of downloads, and that’s OK | Family Inequality

“I use Sci-Hub a lot, often for things that I also have subscription access to. (I do not, however, contribute anything to the system; I free-ride off their criminality.) Why? I’m not in the paywall game business, I’m in the information business. I am always behind on my work, and adding a few seconds or minutes of hunting for the legitimate way to get each of the many articles I look at every day is not worth it. (And when I find my university doesn’t subscribe? Interlibrary loan is wonderful, but I don’t want to spend more time with it than necessary.) Does my choice cost the American Sociological Association a few cents, by reducing legitimate downloads, which somehow factors into the profits that get kicked back to the association from Sage? I don’t know.

Of course, one of the dumb things about the paywall system is that it’s expensive and time-consuming to manage who has access to what information — it’s not a small task to keep information from reaching millions of determined readers from all around the world. (I assume one of the reasons my university recently introduced two-factor authentication — requiring me to click a pop-up on my phone every time I log in to university resources [even when I’m in my office] — is because of Sci-Hub. Ironic!)

Chris Bourg is right: “let it be a lesson to us for what we should be doing differently.” Elbakyan may have committed the most efficient product theft in history, in terms of list price of stolen goods per unit of effort or expense on her part. Her archive has been copied and distributed to different sites around the world (it fits in a large suitcase). And it was made possible by the irrational, corrupt nature of the scholarly communication infrastructure. Her success is the system’s failure.”