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These statistics are based on extensive server log data supplied by Alexandra Elbakyan, the neuroscientist who created Sci-Hub in 2011 as a 22-year-old graduate student in Kazakhstan.

I asked her for the data because, in spite of the flurry of polarized opinion pieces, blog posts, and tweets about Sci-Hub and what effect it has on research and academic publishing, some of the most basic questions remain unanswered: Who are Sci-Hub’s users, where are they, and what are they reading?

It would require him to contact authors individually to get links to their work, and such links go dead 50 days after a paper’s publication. But in increasing numbers, researchers around the world are turning to Sci-Hub, which hosts 50 million papers and counting.

Over the 6 months leading up to March, Sci-Hub served up 28 million documents.

In fact, some of the most intense use of Sci-Hub appears to be happening on the campuses of U. The injunction has had little effect, as the server data reveal. Barely skipping a beat, the site popped back up on a different domain.

Although the web domain was seized in November 2015, the servers that power Sci-Hub are based in Russia, beyond the influence of the U. It’s hard to discern how threatened by Sci-Hub Elsevier and other major publishers truly feel, in part because legal download totals aren’t typically made public.

Purchasing the papers was going to cost 00 this week alone—about as much as his monthly living expenses—and he would probably need to read research papers at this rate for years to come. “Publishers give nothing to the authors, so why should they receive anything more than a small amount for managing the journal? So like millions of other researchers, he turned to Sci-Hub, the world’s largest pirate website for scholarly literature. As he sees it, high-priced journals “may be slowing down the growth of science severely.” The journal publishers take a very different view. ” tweeted Elsevier’s director of universal access, Alicia Wise, on 14 March during a heated public debate over Sci-Hub.

” Many academic publishers offer programs to help researchers in poor countries access papers, but only one, called Share Link, seemed relevant to the papers that Rahimi sought. “There are lots of legal ways to get access.” Wise’s tweet included a link to a list of 20 of the company’s access initiatives, including Share Link.

Everyone should be thinking about the fact that this is here to stay.” It is easy to understand why journal publishers might see Sci-Hub as a threat.

It is as simple to use as Google’s search engine, and as long as you know the DOI or title of a paper, it is more reliable for finding the full text. Along with book chapters, monographs, and conference proceedings, Sci-Hub has amassed copies of the majority of scholarly articles ever published.


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