(Phys.org)—A correspondent for the Science family of journals has published an investigative piece in Science on Sci-Hub, a website that illegally publishes scholarly literature, i.e. research papers. In his article, John Bohannon describes how he made contact with Alexandra Elbakyan, the founder of what is now the world’s largest site for pirated scholarly articles, data she gave him, and commentary on what was revealed. Bohannon has also published another piece focused exclusively on Elbakyan, describing her as a frustrated science student. Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of the Science Family also weighs in on her “love-hate” relationship with Sci-Hub, and explains in detail why she believes the site is likely to cause problems for scholarly publishing heading into the future. More information: John Bohannon, Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone, Science (2016). DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5664 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Science Citation: Investigative report offers statistics and opinions on Sci-Hub (2016, April 29) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-statistics-opinions-sci-hub.html © 2016 Phys.org Research paper publishing sting reveals lax standards of many open-access journals Explore further As Bohannon notes, Sci-Hub exists because a grad student in a developing part of the world, Kazakhstan, found it nearly impossible to fulfill her graduate requirements—she needed to study and cite published papers, but was unable to do so either because she could not gain access to them, or because the cost of doing so was more than she could pay. Her frustration, Bohannon notes, has been reflected in the rapidly escalating size and use of Sci-Hub—Elbakyan started working on it just five years ago, and already it has grown so large that approximately 28 million papers were downloaded between September of last year, through February of this year—these figures came courtesy of Elbakyan, who was more than willing to share whatever Bohannon asked of her, which mainly consisted of raw data regarding usage statistics. One exception was her exact location—Elbakyan is fearful of arrest after ignoring a cease and desist order from a New York judge last year.But, Bohannon notes, the rise of Sci-Hub is not just about researchers in less developed countries trying to gain access to published research papers, it is also about the whole concept of access in general, or open access in particular. He notes that approximately 25 percent of downloads come from developed countries, including of course, those in Europe and the U.S. where researchers often have access to paywall sites. This, he suggests, is due to ease of access. Many researchers and students simply find it easier to track down papers they are looking for on Sci-Hub, so that is where they go.Going forward, it is not clear where Sci-Hub is headed, though most agree it will not go away through litigation, instead it may be leading the way towards what McNutt describes as “risking the viability of a system that supports the quality and integrity of science.” In this case, it appears, only time will tell.