EDITORIAL

My love-hate of Sci-Hub

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Science  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 497
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9419

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Summary

Like many scientist-editors of journals published by nonprofit scientific societies, I have a love-hate relationship with Sci-Hub, the website operated out of Russia that provides access to 50 million pirated scientific articles to researchers worldwide (see the News story on p. 508). I recognize the underlying motivation of bringing global research content to the developing world. However, I also recognize that much traffic to Sci-Hub is from researchers who already have access to the articles they seek through mechanisms such as site licenses, open access, or other means. Authors who publish in Science journals, for example, can make their papers available immediately upon publication through free referrer links at the authors' websites. Research published after 1996 in a Science journal is made free with registration 1 year after its publication date. So what does the scientific community risk by gathering papers illegally?