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A Russian researcher has managed to make as many as 48 million journal articles, each of which is available to view online. She seems to now decline all requests for shutting down the website, inspite of the involvement of one of the biggest publishers in the world ‘Elsevier’ as well a court injunction. Sci-Hub is the website in question which could be considered the Pirate Bay in the world of science. Set up by Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011, this site was meant for people who could ill afford paid articles required for purposes of research. No wonder there have been innumerable downloads ever since.
Unfortunately for the downloaders, New York district court ordered the website to be taken down. Elbakyan chose to contest this order which began a debate over who is the actual owner of science. Elbakyan shared her views with Torrent Freak in the past year, saying that paying $32 for a research paper that is only required for skimming through is absurd. Since she herself got access to the papers via piracy, she believes that each and every individual deserves access to this knowledge no matter what their affiliation or income may be. She claimed that it is completely legal too.
This story surely sounds like one of Robin Hood tales but the truth is that it is similar in a way. The only difference here is that it is not only the poor who will benefit from this move. The price of research papers has been so hefty that universities like Cornell and Harvard admitted they were too expensive to afford. Researchers supported the cause by threatening to boycott Elsvier for the hiking paywall fee. As time wears on, more people are starting to ask if they are assisting with the progress of science. Sadly, more and more people are striving to charge others to have their research published, at times without any peer review.
Sci-Hub takes care of these issues. It downloads a paper from a fellow pirate database called LibGen as soon as one searches for it. It can even manage to bypass journal paywalls courtesy of access keys which some anonymous academies cared to donate for the cause of science. Thus, it can access any paper that is published by the big names such as Elsevier , JSTOR, Sage and Springer. Subsequently, it can offer the paper to the user in mere seconds free of cost.