Sci-Hub has been in the news a lot lately, but few people truly understand what it is and how it affects academic journals and their authors. American Libraries Magazine brought this interesting information to us in their article, “Sci-Hub: What It Is and Why It Matters.

Sci-Hub is a website that makes more than 48 million scholarly research articles available online to anyone for free. However, many if not most of these articles are still under copyright and are normally kept behind paywalls.

Journal publisher Elsevier filed suit to have it shut down. As a result, a judge in the Southern District of New York ordered to cease operations in October 2015. Sci-Hub chose to not not comply with the order and continued operations through a new web domain.

Sci-Hub cites similar goals as open access advocates, but they are not in the same category. Open access articles are available from many publishers, including Elsevier. Sci-Hub is a controversial discovery service, not a publisher. Using login credentials for the libraries of numerous academic institutions it can access the protected areas of that university’s library servers.

The science community is conflicted. Providing access to information is key, but if they were free, how would you sustain the functions of society journals?

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.