“Abstract: The website Sci-Hub enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal’s site. Sci-Hub has grown rapidly since its creation in 2011, but the extent of its coverage was unclear. Here we report that, as of March 2017, Sci-Hub’s database contains 68.9% of the 81.6 million scholarly articles registered with Crossref and 85.1% of articles published in toll access journals. We find that coverage varies by discipline and publisher, and that Sci-Hub preferentially covers popular, paywalled content. For toll access articles, we find that Sci-Hub provides greater coverage than the University of Pennsylvania, a major research university in the United States. Green open access to toll access articles via licit services, on the other hand, remains quite limited. Our interactive browser at https://greenelab.github.io/scihub allows users to explore these findings in more detail. For the first time, nearly all scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection, suggesting the toll access business model may become unsustainable.”
“Seven years ago, a Kazakhstani graduate student named Alexandra Elbakyan started a website with a seemingly innocuous goal: Make most of the world’s research freely available to anyone with internet access. It’s a sad reflection on the state of scientific publishing that she is now a fugitive hiding in Russia. Most people agree that if the public funds scientific research, it should also have free access to the results. …The publishers have responded with legal action. Last year, Elsevier won $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. More recently, a Virginia court awarded the American Chemical Society $4.8 million and ordered internet search engines, web hosting sites and service providers to stop facilitating Sci-Hub activities….”
“Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” has suffered another blow in a US federal court. The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform.”
“If publishers are to thrive in an increasingly hostile landscape of open access mandates, decreasing research and library funding, ResearchGate, Sci-Hub and other pirate sites, and out-of-copyright usage, all while defending against everyday competitive pressures, they must distinguish their content and their brand from their competitors’ and deepen their relationships with readers and subscribers. However, quality content is no longer enough to attract and retain online readers, who can too often find a publisher’s paywall-protected content on another site where it is available for free or request it from colleagues.
For example, a study by the inventors of Unpaywall, a browser extension that locates (legally) free versions of articles, found that ~4.8% of all journal articles with DOIs – ~2.97 million articles – are behind a paywall on their publisher’s site but have also been deposited in open access repositories by their authors; such articles account for over 9% of all searches via Unpaywall (Piowar et al., 2017). As of August 2017, Unpaywall had about 80,000 users (Chawla, 2017)….”
“However, despite the current success, this strategy of wining over faculty hasn’t been very effective: only a fraction of the current access is created by gold/green open access, much of it stems from sci-hub and sharing sites such as ResearchGate. In other words, as fantastic as full access to the literature that we now enjoy feels, it was brought about only to a small extent by the changed publication behavior of faculty.”
“Sci-Hub, a widely-used website that provides access to pirated academic articles, is facing legal challenges from two major publishers—Elsevier and the American Chemical Society (ACS). The site, which was established by former neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 and is operated out of Russia, hosts millions of scientific documents and has users all around the globe.”
“Publisher paywalls are the bane of scientists and students in Kazakhstan, she says, and the existing solution was cumbersome: Post a request on Twitter to #IcanhazPDF with your email address. Eventually, a generous researcher at some university with access to the journal will send you the paper.
What was needed, she decided, was a system that allowed that paper to be shared—with absolutely everyone. She had the computer skills—and contacts with other pirate websites—to make that happen, and so Sci-Hub was born (see main story, p. 508). Elbakyan sees the site as a natural extension of her dream of helping humans share good ideas. “Journal paywalls are an example of something that works in the reverse direction,” she says, “making communication less open and efficient.”
Running a pirate site and being sued for what is likely to be millions of dollars in damages hasn’t stopped Elbakyan from pursuing an academic career. Her neuroscience research is on hold, but she has enrolled in a history of science master’s program at a “small private university” in an undisclosed location. Appropriately enough, her thesis focuses on scientific communication. “I perceive Sci-Hub as a practical side of my research.” …”
“The objective of this survey is to examine practices with respect to access and use of research publications and Sci-Hub.
Your answers will help us to better understand norms on gathering and sharing of publications and publicly funded research.
The following questions are aimed at academics, researchers and students from different disciplines.
The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete….”