Subscription fees charged by academic publishers have risen so much in recent years that even wealthy American universities have said they can’t afford them. When the Harvard Library reported that its subscription costs had reached $ 3.5 million per year in a 2012 memo, for example, it said the fees were “financially unsustainable” and the university asked his faculty to stop publishing research in journals that keep articles behind paid walls.
But regardless of where the Harvard researchers have published their work since, it’s likely that all of this is currently available for free on Sci-Hub, a malicious hacking service for academic research. According to a new study, Sci-Hub contains 68.9% of all academic research. Specifically: 85.2% of all articles originally posted behind pay walls are available for free on the website. And even if a given article is not already available in Sci-Hub’s repository, the site can quickly retrieve it using credentials given for services like JSTOR, Elsevier, and Sage.
Sci-Hub was founded in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan, a Kazakh national residing in Russia. The website, originally on sci-hub.org, has been forced by court and law enforcement orders to change its domain address multiple times, and is now available on the dark web and through the web. Telegram Encrypted Messaging Application. The operation is mainly funded by donations of bitcoins.
University of Pennsylvania data scientist Daniel Himmelstein, who led the new study, concluded that Sci-Hub’s extensive catalog makes the subscription-based publishing model “unsustainable.”
“For the first time, the overwhelming majority of scholarly literature is accessible free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection,” he writes.
This is as it should be, say proponents of open research. They argue, among other things, that a substantial portion of the research that publishers try to lock behind paid walls has been funded by grants paid by taxpayers, and therefore the public should have unrestricted access to it.
Meanwhile, the editors are not going down without a fight. Publisher Elsevier sued Sci-Hub, alleging copyright infringement, in 2011 – and a New York district court ruled last month that Elsevier owed $ 15 million in damages.