Is the SNSI the new PRISM?

“This past week, these public relations efforts were dialed up a notch or ten to a whole new level. At an SNSI webinar entitled „Cybersecurity Landscape – Protecting the Scholarly Infrastructure“, hosted by two Elsevier employees, one of the presenters suggested „develop or subsidize a low cost proxy or a plug-in to existing proxies“ in order to collect user data. That user data, it was explained, could be analyzed with an “Analysis Engine” to track biometric data (e.g., typing speed) or suspicious behavior (e.g., a pharmacology student being suspiciously interested in astrophysics). The angle towards Sci-Hub was confirmed by the next speaker, an Ex-FBI agent and security analyst.

Considering the track record of academic publishers, this reeks strongly of PR attempts to ‘soften the target’, i.e., to make installing publisher spyware on university servers sound less outrageous than it actually is. After the PRISM debacle, the publishers now seem to have learned from their PR mistakes. This time, there is no ‘pitbull’ around. This time, there is only a strange article in a major newspaper, a shady institute where it appears hard to find out who founded it, who is running it and who funds it.

SNSI is an apparent PR project aimed at compromising, not strengthening, network security at research institutions. However, unlike with PRISM, this time the PR effort may pay off.”

Should Knowledge Be Free? – YouTube

“Should academic research be behind paywalls? Researchers and peer reviewers earn nothing for their work, and yet academic publishers boast enormous profit margins every year from subscription fees to journals. Especially during a global pandemic, is it right for scientific research to be pay-to-read?

Sci-Hub is an illegal website that offers almost all academic publications for free, created by Alexandra Elbakyan, who I interview in this video. Aaron Swartz, like Alexandra, felt that information should be freely available on the Internet. He ended his own life after being charged with wire fraud, because he illegally downloaded academic articles from JSTOR. What is the way forward? Pre-prints? Researchgate? Have your say below. A huge thank you to Alexandra Elbakyan and Rachel Atwood (@racatiwood) for giving up their time so generously on two occasions (due to Zoom failing the first time). We talked for a while longer, and whether you agree with what Alexandra’s doing or not, her accomplishments are quite staggering. …”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“While allowing users to gain access to paywalled academic content aka delivery services is often seen to be less sexy than discovery it is still an important part of the researcher workflow that is worth looking at. In particular, I will argue that in the past few years we have seen a renewed interest in this part of the workflow and may potentially start to see some big changes in the way we provide access to academic content in the near future.

Note: The OA discovery and delivery front has changed a lot since 2017, with Unpaywall been a big part of the story, but for this blog post I will focus on delivery aspects of paywalled content. 1.0 Access and delivery – an age old problem

 

1.1 RA21, Seamless Access and getFTR

 

1.2 Campus Activated Subscriber Access (CASA)

1.3 Browser extensions/”Access Brokers” 1.4 Content syndication partnership between Springer Nature and ResearchGate (new) 1.5 Is the sun slowing setting on library link resolvers? 1.6 The Sci-hub effect?

1.7 Privacy implications …”

Gold, green, and black open access – Björk – 2017 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Key points

 

The debate about open access has until now focused on the gold (journals) versus the green route (manuscript self?archival).
Recently an even more disruptive form of OA has emerged, in the form of illegal article copies retrievable from academic social networks or pirate sites.
Illegal, or “black open access”, provides access to a large part of the pay?walled article output which cannot be found in repositories….”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“Some readers might be thinking that this might be a odd time for us to start focusing on improving user experiences with delivery given that the coming of open access might make a lot of this moot.

 

There are two answers to this. Firstly open access even in the most optimistic of projections will still have a decade or more to go and is likely to cover only journal articles. Libraries will still need to provide access to other licensed resources (A&I indexes, image archives etc) that will not be covered by Open Access.

 

The other reason is that some content providers even in a open access world would still want users to authenticate, so they can track usage and users.”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“Some readers might be thinking that this might be a odd time for us to start focusing on improving user experiences with delivery given that the coming of open access might make a lot of this moot.

 

There are two answers to this. Firstly open access even in the most optimistic of projections will still have a decade or more to go and is likely to cover only journal articles. Libraries will still need to provide access to other licensed resources (A&I indexes, image archives etc) that will not be covered by Open Access.

 

The other reason is that some content providers even in a open access world would still want users to authenticate, so they can track usage and users.”

Beyond Sci-Hub: Cyber Challenges for the Scholarly Communications Industry – Against the Grain

“Given recent reporting in the press,1 it seems that the legitimacy and credibility of Sci-Hub is no longer a matter for debate.  However, the challenge of how to address the continuing threat Sci-Hub poses to authors, societies, university presses, and other publishers reliant on the royalties derived from book sales and subscription income remains — and is connected to the much wider challenge of cybercrime….

Collectively, we have a responsibility to safeguard and manage a successful online researcher experience by ensuring institutional and individual access is enabled to high quality, licensed, peer reviewed publications;  that data is protected;  and entitlements from licensed institutions are safeguarded.  For example, publishers and librarians worked together as part of the RA21 initiative, now called seamlessaccess.org, to make access to articles easier for researchers using their institutional logins when they are not on campus.  As this becomes implemented across platforms and publishers, it will also negate the need for researchers to log in each time they move between publishers’ websites. …

One way that our community is looking to address and tackle these issues is through the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI). …”

Blackballed by PayPal, Scientific-Paper Pirate Takes Bitcoin Donations – CoinDesk

“Bitcoin as a censorship-free money has been used by outlaws of all sorts, but this time the outlaw is a young scientist from Kazakhstan breaking through the paywalls of academic journals. 

Alexandra Elbakyan, a 31-year-old freelance coder, neurobiologist and phylologist, is running a database of over 80 million articles from academic journals that are normally available only through subscriptions. What started out of frustration when she was a graduate student became a free research service funded only through donations. For most people in the world, bitcoin is the only way to support Elbakyan’s work. …

Elbakyan says bitcoin only constitutes a small part of all donations. Most often, it’s the online payment service Yandex.Money that is available in Russia and nearby countries including Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. However, for all the other parts of the world, crypto is the only direct way to support Sci-Hub.  

Sometimes, that can be an issue. Still few people trust bitcoin, Elbakyan says, and some countries prohibit crypto, such as Bolivia and Ecuador….

In 2018, University of Pennsylvania postdoctoral fellow Daniel Himmelstein and a group of other scholars found that Sci-Hub raised more than 94 bitcoin, worth about $900,000 at recent prices, before 2018. Speaking with CoinDesk, Elbakyan confirmed that the estimate was mostly fair. 

The 2017 bitcoin rally was a good moment for her, Elbakyan says, as she could sell some bitcoin at a high price. But otherwise she’s nonchalant about all things blockchain and distributed tech. When asked if distributed file storage solutions currently in the works could be useful for Sci-Hub, she says the site works fine as it is. …”

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… ”