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Is Alexandra Elbakyan in real trouble this time? (chronicle.com)
665 points by Cream-Corn-11 85 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 374 comments

Given how beneficial sci-hub is, there ought to be some way that the scientific community can formally recognise this, as a way of legitimizing her cause.

Some ways I can think of:

* Get her elected as rector of a university. Contraversial figures are sometimes elected as Rector, at least in the UK, because students are the electorate. However for the same reason this isn't considered especially prestigious by people who know this.

* Fund and create an academic post specifically for her (Ptolomy II Professor of the ethics of copyright strikes me a a suitably biting title [1])

* Nominate her to some well known prize

[1] Ptolomy II decreed that any book found in a ship in the port of Alexandria should be copied by the scribes of his library - with or without the permission of the owner. The UK actually has a similar law in that publishers are required to send copies of any book published in the UK to the British Library

Book prefaces commonly acknowledge the libraries where the author has done research; sci-hub deserves to go there if they have been using it.

It's a shame Elbakyan hasn't written a paper about sci-hub that people can cite. Many software packages do that, to give academics an obvious way to cite them.

On nominations: the Nobel nomination process is very open (iirc, any relevant professor can make a nomination). For that reason it is also largely meaningless, but that doesn't stop many people boasting about it, and chunks of the media enabling them. So this is leaning a long way towards fake news, but is also something a single person could do.

From the article:

[Publishers claim sites like Sci-Hub] “have no incentive to ensure the accuracy of scientific articles, no incentive to ensure published papers meet ethical standards, and no incentive to retract or correct articles if issues arise.”

The correct response to this should be to always note in citations when a paper was accessed through sci-hub. Then the reader is warned, and can compare against the canonical version if they are worried.

Publishers have little incentive to ensure the accuracy of papers as well...

The science has changed to fake paper mill to advance the careers of people in the countries with weak institutions.


Sci-Hub is a library, a repository, not a publisher. The original article publisher has editorial responsibility for article selection, not Sci-Hub, just as with any repository.

The accuracy of articles themselves and the integrity of them is trivial to establish as SciHub, LibGen, and ZLibrary all index principally on checksums of files. If there's a modification, the checksums will reveal which items are affected.

Note the MD5 hash provided for Stephen Breyer's seminal article "The Uneasy Case for Copyright" (1970): 8F8B57972236B04621795C49A15E8C2E


Also: Those of you in academia, please have a think about whether you, personally, could kick off one of these, or one of the suggestions in replies.

Honorary doctorate, maybe?

Elbakyan's contribution to humanity is way bigger than that and cannot be overstated. An honorary doctorate from many major international universities, maybe.

Her effort deserves to be rewarded with the nobel peace prize, imsvho.

I attempted an undergraduate degree in the US and dropped out after 2 years because I struggled in the context and hadn't learned the discipline I needed to get through each semester.

Since then, I've become so enthusiastic about academia in large part because of sci-hub. For all my interests I can find papers and access them with no institutional affiliation. I've learned how I learn, gained valuable research skills, and am planning on re-applying to finish a bachelor's degree!

Although I come from a place of privilege I owe a great debt to sci hub. I can't imagine how critical it is for those outside my bubble, where institutions might not have great access in the first place.

It would be neat if she was awarded 1/2 or 1/3 of the medicine or chemistry prize for example

Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously. https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/

I really wonder how this is going to play out. For those who don't follow the current situation with Sci-Hub, Alexandra (the creator and likely the sole operator) of Sci-Hub shut down the part of the website ("the magical proxy") that is responsible for fetching the papers that were not previously retrieved. This was done to comply with the request of the Indian court, as described in the article.

As a result, any papers published in 2021 (and some of the rarer, older ones, that nobody tried to access in the past) are not retrievable by Sci-Hub. The user only gets to see a white screen.

This is meant to be a temporary measure, but it's been going on since December of last year (due to various court hearing delays), and the desperation in online communities like the r/scihub subreddit has been palpable [1,2].

[1] https://old.reddit.com/r/scihub/comments/o2xb57/how_do_i_eve... [2] https://old.reddit.com/r/scihub/comments/lofj0r/announcement...

I'm pessimistic. Long before sci-hub, library genesis and Alexandra there was ebook-club / library.nu and Smiley (its creator). When it closed it was described as the burning of the library of Alexandria. There were a lot of non-technical books on that site and it was amazing. Still, it lost the battle.

Ultimately, sci-hub will unfortunately get the same end. Until the Scientific society stops maintaining the leeches that are the scientific journals, nothing will change.

If sci-hub goes down it will significantly disrupt nearly every scientific researcher, in every field, all over the world. After getting used to a world where every paper is obtainable, it would be very difficult for people to go back.

I’m not really a scholar or academic per se, but the independent research I do (which involves skimming thousands of papers per year, 99% of which are irrelevant or useless) would be an order of magnitude harder without sci-hub. Most paywalled papers I just would never bother to read, unless I happened to be sitting in a university library or something.

If your peers thing that you need to cite the paper X because is relevant for the theme, you need to obtain it and pay for it. To decide to ignore parts of knowledge because you don't like its distribution mode is not an option.

The result will be less science, slower science and independent scientists being pushed out of the road. They would try to recruit them later under the ridiculous 'citizen scientists' category ('missionary scientists' would be an even better term), but this is what we have. Every single people trying to break monopolies or introduce changes for the benefit of the entire humanity in the past two decades has been laminated as a public warning for newcomers.

> If your peers thing that you need to cite the paper X because is relevant for the theme, you need to obtain it and pay for it.

Let's rephrase that:

"If you can't afford the journal subscriptions that allow you to access all of the papers your peers think are relevant for you to cite, then you shouldn't release your research at all."

Whose world ends up with "less science", again?

For researchers in most universities almost every paper is obtainable without scihub.

This is not true for most universities around the world. Only wealthy ones in first-world countries. All of my father’s academic colleagues in Mexico use Sci-Hub daily, and rely on it for access to literature.

But beyond that, there are paywalled journals which Harvard does not subscribe to. There are journals which the University of California does not subscribe to. (Or pick your favorite university, and there will be some paywalled journals it does not subscribe to.) Almost all are on Sci-Hub.

Moreover, even in the USA/Europe, there are many researchers who are not affiliated with any university, and many laypeople who look up scientific literature from time to time. For instance a great many paywalled papers are directly relevant to working computer programmers, but not worth $35/paper + bureaucratic hassle to evaluate.

The Journal system is basically academic job protection for wealthier countries, but this factor is never talked about aloud, as it is a) unscientific and anti-enlightenment behavior and b) exposes the hypocrisy that is creating loads of competition for unskilled labor, while crippling the competition for mental labor.

So why not call the system what is? The guild of knowledge.

I still vividly remember when the eastern-block opened, and all those excellent Russian mathematicians who went into the west, were not recognized when it came to there degrees in europe. "The brightest minds of a generation work here" in the university brochure? Don't make me laugh.

It's obscene that scientific literature is walled away from the public.

Previously publishers did improve the papers and checked them. Those times are long gone and it is questionable what their purpose might be today.

IP law has long been abused to stifle development instead of protecting it. In this case it might stifle scientific research.

Especially when the public often paid for said research at least in part.

Exactly! I had the opportunity to both work in the academic field in Mexico and study in the UK and the difference of resources is abysmal: Access to Scopus, access to Elsevier and other editorials is something most researchers in Mexico can only dream about.

Are the people whose work will be disrupted people who the top-tier scientific community care about?

As a working programmer I'd like to have access to scientific papers, but realistically no researcher is going to care whether I do. If the pain isn't being felt by top-tier researchers and top-tier universities, I doubt anyone will be able to change it.

> no researcher is going to care whether I [read their papers]

Researchers absolutely want people to read and use their work! That’s why they do it! Having some practical impact on people making things in industry is super gratifying to the researchers I know, much more than just having the same tiny circle of known collaborators read and cite each-other’s papers in theoretical or small-scale academic prototype work.

Yes. It includes many members of the top-tier scientific community.

For many of them, the reason we get the benefits of these top-tier people is because of sci-hub.

I’m a researcher at a first world university. I used sci-hub to pirate my own papers cus we did not have a subscription to the journal anymore. I’m not paying $39 to read my own work!

As a researcher, I'm not sure why you didn't have a preprint copies as all other authors I have met did.

Wasn’t at home, don’t have them in my Dropbox.

I think they meant, why not upload then on arXiv.org

See https://arxiv.org/help/submit. That will make your paper easily accessible to all. And, of course, to yourself, wherever you are.

Wasn't allowed by the journal as it'd be considered prior publication. Used to be quite common in the medical field actually, COVID is slowly changing that luckily.

Does your institution's library not offer interlibrary loan?

Those aren't free in most libraries I've been to and don't apply to everything (don't quote me on this, but since journals are basically subscription services, their articles aren't actually owned by the library and they might not be able to loan them out further).

Interesting. I've never been a patron of a public library in the United States that charged patrons fees for ILL, and neither of the universities I've attended charged for it, either.

My own academic library where I work used to have a per-semester limit and charged for requests over it but we eliminated it for a number of reasons, one of which was that it was skewing our acquisition decisions. When we did charge, the cost was less than what you'd pay at a publisher's website.

It is true that some vendor content doesn't allow ILL, but it's in the minority. In 2009 the Information Delivery Services Project found around 15% of publishers do not permit ILL at all while 46% permit it with no restrictions. The rest are in-between, applying restrictions like no lending outside of the US or to commercial entities. https://idsproject.org/documents/IDS%20Project%20licensing.p...

Here it's around 8€ per unit for national ILL and 17-38€ for international (depends on the system it goes through and may be even higher in special cases). You can also get copies of articles for a bit less, but that's not always available.

None of that is unreasonably expensive, but I can see it adding up quickly if you need to order like half of the things in your references (which might happen if your institution isn't subscribed to one of the bigger journals in your field).

Don't have much hope for the legal system on the subcontinent. Indian, Pakistani, Deshi courts are all legendary slow. It's nearly impossible to win against concerted, deliberate extension, and delay tactic against somebody who has more money to write legal letters than you.

Unlike the GB legal system, from which they branched out, they never got the reformation wave circa 1960-1970 when UK was trying to root out the most outrageous flaws of English law.

There was a now legendary legal dispute over land near either Multan, or Kohat, can't remember exactly, which began in 19th century, outlasted 6, or 7 generations, and ended just few years ago.

I would be surprised if Kohat wasn’t under FCR when that began

I'm very confused, why would she ever have to comply with orders of an Indian (or indeed, US) court if she resides in Europe?

She doesn’t have to comply with the Indian court order. She chose to because she thinks she has a chance of winning the case. To her, a court ruling that SciHub is legal under Indian law would be a huge win. Obeying the court order increases the odds the court will rule in her favour. It is a calculated risk on her part.

She did not have to, but she voluntarily chose to, in order to have a shot of winning this case. If she didn't comply with the court's orders, I assume the chances of winning would plummet. From the article:

> One reason is that Elbakyan believes she has a shot at winning the case, and her odds might improve if she plays by the rules. “I want the Indian court to finally support free access to science,” she said. If that happened, it would mark a significant victory for Sci-Hub, with reverberations likely beyond India. Victory remains a longshot, but Elbakyan thinks it’s worth the hassle and expense. She didn’t even bother to contest the two lawsuits in the United States.

Can third parties (especially foreigners) finance legal battles in India? Can we donate?

You can donate to her directly.

There is no hard restriction on how lawyers are paid . Judges may limit something in some specific cases etc, also they have paperwork to do for any foreign income for tax purposes. That's not unusal in many countries.

There maybe optics problem occasionally if local issue gets international funding it can undermine support etc, here the other party copyright holders are also international and she /libgen is also not local, so perhaps not as much a problem her funding comes globally

She doesn't, but many people really really want to change this. See this discussion from a week ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27662701

The topic of borders and the Internet is a really weird one in general. Somehow the very same people who would like Alexandra to flout any laws will jump up and down and yell "Google should be forced to do what my country tells it". Personally I find this baffling.

You can recognise some laws are good for everyone and some as unethical - it's not an invalid position. For example (on an extreme end), I believe murder being illegal is right, but pot possession being illegal is not. In the less extreme middle, (and more contentious) I believe antitrust laws used against google are sometimes good and restrictions on access to / use of publicly funded research is not.

You should comply with the laws of the country your operating in, yes. Google has different versions of its offerings for different countries, as it should be. She changed scihub for everyone, though, not just Indians, that's the difference.

Everyone loves an underdog.

Those are completely different situations. Google should obey countries they earn money from. Sci-Hub doesn’t make money.

It's explained in the article. She thinks there is a chance to win the case in India which would be a useful publicity stunt and therefore complies with the court order.

> win the case in India which would be a useful publicity stunt

It isn't just about publicity, it is also about legal precedent.

In the English common law system, a judge is allowed to cite not just precedent from within their own country's legal system, but also precedent from courts in foreign common law jurisdictions. Foreign courts are not binding precedent, but a judge is allowed to say they are persuaded by the foreign court's reasoning. The propriety of citing foreign court judgements has become rather controversial in the US, but in England and other common law jurisdictions it is an accepted practice which few question.

I doubt a legal precedent from India is going to persuade the courts of developed countries like UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Even though most of those are technically allowed to consider Indian court decisions (as a fellow common law jurisdiction), they rarely give Indian courts much heed in practice. But it may be much more influential with the courts of developing countries in Africa and elsewhere. That's what Elbakyan is trying to do, win a case in India and then use that as a springboard to winning cases in other countries too.

And a digital safe haven in India would be pretty huge, and if it spreads to African nations that could open up more DNS registrars at the very least.

It would also be a good way for China and Russia to allow scihub to operate from their countries, just to send a big F#@% you to US (ACS) and Netherlands (Elsevier) who have been especially violent against sci-hub.

It's explained in the original article.

Anyone remember Napster? There were extremely obscure musical recordings that were instantly found on Napster that are impossible to find even today. It took a long time for anyone to rebuild that data to the level of usefulness that Napster had.

If Sci-Hub is forced to shut down due to legal pressure, technical problems, running out of money, or the founder losing interest, it would take a long time for anyone to duplicate Sci-Hub if they started from zero.

I think a good way to keep the cause alive is to backup or mirror the 85,483,811 papers hosted on Sci-Hub. That is, if she's willing to allow it (maybe it's already being done, but how widely?).

In the case of Sci-Hub, you'd need between 85 and 850 TB for each backup or mirror depending on whether the average paper size is 1 MB or 10 MB.

> I think a good way to keep the cause alive is to backup or mirror the 85,483,811 papers hosted on Sci-Hub.

There's already an effort where the data is broken up into 100GB chunks [1]. Looks like the entire database is duplicated now at least 10 times. [2]

> Anyone remember Napster? There were extremely obscure musical recordings that were instantly found on Napster that are impossible to find even today.

That existed (and still exists) - there was oink.cd, then what.cd, and now RED. But each incarnation has lost things. Each time you burn down the library, you're bound to lose something. It's disappointing there isn't a legal way of cultural preservation. We need something like a crowd sourced digital library.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/comments/nc27fv/rescue_...

[2] https://phillm.net/torrent-health-frontend/stats-filtered-ta...

There are 850 scihub torrents, each containing 100,000 scientific articles, to a total of 85M articles (77TB) http://libgen.rs/scimag/repository_torrent/

index for all the papers in these torrents (SQL db): https://libgen.rs/dbdumps/scimag.sql.gz

also see https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/comments/nc27fv/rescue_...

But are they searchable, by users with little technical ability? Will they be updated with new papers if Sci-Hub shuts down?

Nope, but at least, they aren’t lost. They are just there, ready to be made available by the potential successor of Sci-Hub. That’s what matters.

It's not too hard to find the article's doi (programatically) for newer articles. Once you have the doi you have all the important article metadata like author, publish date, etc. I imagine this is all that's required to make the articles searchable.

However, this is certainly more challenging for older articles.

Yes p2p really had the largest catalog and still surpasses what’s available on Spotify or Apple Music. You could get obscure live recordings, the smallest bands, everything was there. If you consider bootleg recordings, the volume of music produced is many times larger than what any one centralized service could offer.

As far as backups for future generations go, I'd hope archive.org has a backup of it all, regardless of whether or not they make it available. I certainly hope they have a program for keeping copyrighted (or otherwise private) data backed up for safekeeping for future generations without making it publicly (or privately) accessible; sort of a digital time capsule, if you will, that's kept securely locked until a future date.

For me soulseek was amazing to find obscure recordings.

Napster was ok. Oink on the other hand...

Or its spiritual successor, What.cd

The closure of what.cd should be up there with the burning of the library of Alexandria.

Isn’t there a torrent available? I thought I had heard that scihub is immortal because of torrented copies.

Only the existing bits. New publications wouldn't be included, so eventually the archive would become less relevant and stop being shared. There's significant cost for the required storage (currently 77TB according to andyxor's comment).

108T 104T 3,9T 97% /home/scihub

77TB (or 104 TB) sounds expensive, but many people reading this could buy that kind of storage with just one month's salary. (SeaGate IronWolf Pro 16 TB, currently $521 on Amazon)

You can get amazing deals on storage at different points in the year. I have a Seagate 16TB external hard disk that I bought during Black Friday sales of 2020 for about $270, half of your quoted price. Currently, it is $450 new.

At the reduced cost, we'd only need 7 of those for 112TB of storage, and that's $1890 + taxes, close to $2000. Not a lot of money for a backup of humanity's knowledge.

77 / 16 = 5.5 (6 disks) at $521 per disk turns into $3126. Seems only 11 countries in the world has a higher salary than $3126[1], and probably people wouldn't buy something like that with their entire monthly salary, so at least $5000 a month is required to be able to just dispose $3126 for some drives. That leaves 5 countries with a average salary higher than $5000.

Granted, the source might not be the best, nor using average salaries as a signal either, but to say that many people can spend something like that on a whim seems ignorant at best.

- [1] https://www.worlddata.info/average-income.php

This is why broad averages aren't always the most useful statistic. The number of complete mirrors required to make the data trove fairly robust is much lower than the number of people in the world, and the prior commentor's qualifier was "people reading this", which is likely a biased sample and includes many people working in technology in the richest countries in the world. It's unlikely that said population's income is clustered around overall national averages, and only a relatively small number of outliers are required to set up adequate mirroring.

They said "many people reading this" and HN's biggest audience is US tech workers. It wouldn't be ignorant to say that many US tech workers can afford that.

The table doesn't list the same as the map. For instance Norway and Sweden is included in the map, but not in the table. And I don't think the average reader here should be compared to the average income around the world. Rather a top single digit percent.

you could do it for about $2300 by shucking external hard drives. I picked up a couple 10TB WD drives last year for $210 each for my NAS.

Off topic but I didn’t realize you could save that much! Why are externals less expensive?

There's a bit on the r/DataHoarder subreddit about it[0]. They say it comes down to a shorter warranty, more demand and "Binning of performance parts".

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/wiki/hardware#wiki_shuc...

I think there was some reddit data hoarder initiative that did that a few months ago.

> “I thought Sci-Hub would become legal in a couple of years,” she said. “When the laws are obviously in the way of scientific development, they should be canceled.”

Pretty much this.

Elbakyan: builds library of Alexandria.

Elsevier et al.: tries to burn it down.

When you think about it the legality of Uber or AirBnB was not so obvious from the start and still isn't. Maybe she thought Sci-Hub would have the same path.

Sadly, it has little to due with public good and a lot with funds and lawyers and PR.

No, she’s not in real trouble this time. What seems to be in trouble is getting new papers on to Sci-Hub and it becoming a little bit less relevant over time.

The courts here in India are notoriously slow on many cases. Depending on luck, the hearings don’t even start for a long time after an initial notice is sent to defendants. If the publishers are able to push the court for an earlier hearing, we’ll know how soon Sci-Hub can get back on track (surely she’s not going to stop maintaining the site and stop uploading new papers regardless of how the case turns out). I don’t think the publishers would be content with just new papers not being uploaded. If the case drags on, the backlog of newer papers to upload may become an immense effort that may create some “holes” in the data archive.

I just hope the court decides sooner and we can get on with Sci-Hub growing.

P.S.: This link shared in another comment worked for me without any CAPTCHA prompts - https://archive.ph/huNwk

> getting new papers on to Sci-Hub and it becoming a little bit less relevant over time

Sci-Hub is just as relevant as ever. What has happened is that paywalled papers published in 2021 are losing a substantial proportion of their readers and potential citations, and their future impact will be depressed compared to papers from previous years. Even when Sci-Hub starts adding papers again, there may be a significant permanent effect.

Unestablished researchers publishing important early-career papers in paywalled journals are getting harmed.

I am curious about this. Isn't it the case that most interesting new articles are available on ArXiv or one of the newer preprint repositories that seem now to pop up every day (often with funny names such as engrXiv or Frenxiv)?

Did people really stopped reading arXiv, like they stopped reading journals, and moved on to Sci-Hub completely?

Or the final published versions are substantially different from preprint versions often enough to make Sci-Hub is so important?

> Isn't it the case that most interesting new articles are available on ArXiv

No, that's not the case outside a few subfields.

> Unestablished researchers publishing important early-career papers in paywalled journals are getting harmed.

I'm always amazed at the lack of will to change what everyone agrees is a problem.

It's always lack and coordination and power, not lack of will. There might be around a thousand scientists in the world that are relevant enough to be able to contact other big names and try to get the whole scientific community on board, not only with a massive effort to make the problem well known to the general public and try to gather enough attention to it, but also making some specific proposals on how this can be solved, and proposing some rather drastic measures if laws are not changed, like getting scientists to agree to ignore any paper that's not released freely and publicly online, and trying to get the media and everyone else on board. But those big names are usually very busy already, and doing useful things. Not more useful than this, but translating from will to coordination is one of the biggest problems preventing humanity from making the world a better place. Some essays like "meditations on moloch" have discussed this problem in more detail if you are interested, but the key idea is that existing power dynamics and the interests and willingness to cheat or be "cleverer" of a minority can deeply compromise the game for everyone else, moving the individual "rational" decision (low risk) very far away from the collective optimal.

It has little to do with will, and much more with building a scientific career.

Unless you meant that the way academia is structured is the problem here. Because it is and it leads to these excesses. Publishing, itself an acknowledged problem, is being addressed. But slowly, very slowly. Because the incentives in academia do not point to risk taking.

There is a rescue mission to save Scihub papers, you can help seeding the torrents https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/comments/nc27fv/rescue_...

Surprised nobody decided to upload them onto filecoin/ipfs. Would be a great test to a real-life use case of the decentralized web

Yes, see this post on IPFS by /u/shrine (who started the SciHub rescue mission on Reddit) http://freeread.org/ipfs/

That's great, and easy to do! I have an old NAS around, will try to set it up this week.

Is injecting malware into PDFs still a thing? If so, it could be a national security matter to give people access via a trusted source so they don’t have to go to a grey market to get their research papers.

And I’ll just +1 here that even when I did have access through university, the flow for logging into elsevier was like 8 clicks, and then after finding the paper, the button to download and read it was hidden on the side as an image-button, no alt or title text. Just an image with the word “download pdf”

So yeah, I went to sci-hub every time.

Or it was configured to only allow IPs from library computers. Or one had to use VPN if working from one's dorm room and not campus to get access. Just all around a big hassle.

Reminds me of being a kid living in a small town in the mountains of Norway. The only music I could buy was the Top10 CDs on display at the kiosk. Being rotated only a few times a year and not at all my taste. But with p2p filesharing I could listen to all kinds of music. Often times the illegal way is just so much more convenient, not because it's free, but because it doesn't have lots of artificial hurdles.

> Is injecting malware into PDFs still a thing?

Nope. Most people read PDFs inside the browser, with the same sandbox protections as other web content.

IIRC Firefox uses a JavaScript based PDF reader (pdf.js), but Chrome/Chromium uses a native library (PDFium).

Both have had exploits in the past, but I would trust the pdf.js approach more.

Sandboxes can be escaped from.

You can only get guaranteed protection from malware infections through the internet if you turn off your machine.

Even then there might be some remote management exploits which would work on turned off machines, so unplug the cables aswell.

Thats not a reason to fudge with the definitions. The existence of sandboxes doesnt mean there are no more pdf exploits. There still are and sandboxes dont mitigate it entirely.

There is also more ways then just turning off your machine. Its needlessly oversimplifying complex topics. Topics that are very interesting and have severe implications. Especially if we are talking about state level espionage.

So in short, no you are wrong. PDF exploits are still a thing. You made unjustified assumptions.

Reading my post it sounds confrontational. Thats not my intent.

I only confirmed what you said.

The best way to reduce the number of bugs (exploits) in a system is to get rid of it.

Since you've brought up state level espionage, this might be the reason why states are run by hordes of bureocrats processing physical paperwork (this is an oversimplification of course).

>this might be the reason why states are run by hordes of bureocrats processing physical paperwork (this is an oversimplification of course).

Nice point, thanks for bringing it up. Reminded me of https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/russia-reverts... >Russian guard service reverts to typewriters after NSA leaks

Could someone with knowledge of the matter explain why scientists still publish to these journals, and still sign up for access?

It seems like as long as every university in the world can just switch to a blog a do away with publications, they'd save a lot of money, improve science, and reduce complexity overnight.

Why are paid journals still a thing?

It's a coordination problem. A journal is valuable because having a publication in it confers prestige and impact, which scientists need for jobs and tenure.

Now, if all scientists in a field were to switch to a new journal, they could take the prestige with them, get rid of the rent seeking publisher, and have the same science, prestige, and impact for a fraction of the cost. But if any individual scientists switches, they'd carry the full loss (of foregoing prestige/impact), while achieving no gain. So, you need to have everybody on board simultaneously.

A switch like that can happen [1], but it happens rarely. Often it takes the nestor of a field to get sufficiently pissed off with a journal and persuade everyone to move on. Great example: Don Knuth in 2003 convinced the Editorial Board of the Journal of Algorithms (which he had founded) to resign [2], and start ACM Transactions on Algorithms with a different, lower-priced, not-for-profit publisher. Elsevier kept the old Journal going, but gave up and folded 6 years later. Yay.

Wish that would happen more often. But given that the situation was basically the same 20 years ago, I am not optimistic. What needs to happen to shake the scientific publishing world up??

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsevier#Resignation_of_editor...

[2] https://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/joalet.pdf

It is slowly happening, but the inertia is a significant impediment. Every scientists agrees that open access is the way to go. But it takes a decade or two to create the "social proof" that your new community journal is indeed one of high standards. If you already know that the editors of your goto journal have high professional standards, you do not want to potentially waste time and risk your reputation on supporting a community journal. It is a social problem, not a technical one. Usually solved by getting all the luminaries of the field to be editors for your new community journal (which is a tall order).

One problem is that open access journals get paid by the author. So all so called predatory journals (not doing peer review, just taking the money and publishing the paper) are open access. Recently there was some hysteria about this, even if you publish by accident in one of those journals your career takes a very big dent.

It seems reasonable to me to pay a small one-time publication fee for an open access journal, to cover clerical and typesetting work (professional typesetting is important and expensive). Predatory journals exist and would exist independently of what the best practices of good journals are.

I have received plenty of emails inviting me to submit work to predatory journals, but their low quality and lack of peer review and general ethics is pretty obvious and they are easy to avoid. They feel more like a spammy annoyance than a real threat.

> reasonable to me to pay a small one-time publication fee for an open access journal, to cover clerical and typesetting work

In my experience, the author typesets themselves anyway - the journal doesn’t do this. And the clerical work is done by community volunteers - the journal doesn’t do that either.

In my experience with open access journals, if I am expected to typeset, I need to pay around 300$ for publication. If the journal does their typesetting, I pay on the order of thousands. Steep, but not unreasonable. And waivers exist.

Don't you just use a LaTeX template? I'm not really sure what typesetting there is to do beyond that?

Whenever I publish a paper, I just send them a finished PDF. There's nothing more done with it than that I believe.

LaTeX on its own does not magically solve all layout issues, especially if the exact placement of figures is pedagogically important or if the math equations are complicated. Usually you would end with 20ish compilation warnings (not errors) on a first draft. I think it is fine for a scientist to not bother with those, but I also think it is important for them to be fixed by someone in the final product. You can argue that I am snobish about typesetting, but that is different from saying that good typesetting does not involve an effort.

Also, I have never sent a PDF for publication. I always send source files. I do not know of journals that would accept a PDF (except for early peer review).

In your opinion what would constitute a small fee? $10? $100? $3000?


In a sibling comment I mentioned. If they do professional typsetting, around 3000 is not crazy. If I do the typesetting, then ≤500 is what I would expect.

Haha, can I get a few thousand dollars for typesetting my paper? That's absurd. Sure you can spend a month setting it in your printing press or illustrator or whatever, but just using the journal's template along with LaTeX is perfectly good nowadays, and the hardest part is getting to it to compile.

Just using the journal template and looking only for compilation errors does not produce particularly good results. If I am preparing something for a journal like Quantum, where I am in charge of typesetting my work, it would take me a day or so to ensure figures are well placed and margins are not weird (in other words, not simply make it compile, but make it compile without warnings (not errors)). Most scientists do not care about the warnings latex emits as long as it compiles, and the results are ugly papers. I find it reasonable to pay $1000 to someone to take care of that processing (if they do a good job at it, which APS's and Nature's journals do).

Roughly how long does it take to typeset a 5 page manuscript?

If you go for high quality and work on the figures is performed, my (unreliable) guess is half a day for a professional designer. It takes me much more, because my latex skills are limited and because I insist on using the most standard and reproducible tools/packages in latex.

That small fee is usually ard 2000$.

Because a high Impact Index value is required to obtain grants later.


Therefore is a captive customer case. And captive here has the same meaning as slave. If you don't work for free for some journals, basically you can't have a scientist career. In higher levels articles are not enough and you need to consider seriously to write a book for Elsevier or somebody else.

And this cut both ways. Acta Vertebrata, the journal of the Doñana's Biological Station since 1974, have to be closed in 1997 after decades trying unsuccessfully to achieve a higher impact index as journal. Low impact index means that you obtain less and less of the researchers effort and that interesting articles fly away your radar. Researchers deciding to publish in Acta Vertebrata had a competitive disadvantage. It was a terrific journal, the problem is that they did science in the latinosphere, period. Nowadays science means do politics or go home

This is so sad. You'd think that IF would be calculated by how much value the paper created, but instead it seems like a popularity contest. Maybe made sense in 1975 when it was started, given the low volume and high friction of distribution at the time, but in the age of the internet, it makes no sense.

Probably because they have to in order to get a job or even graduate.

It's probably like Facebook or LinkedIn. Where else do you go that has the same audience? It's a lot eaiser just to stay.

Not all journals (and venues) are equal, just like how not all canyons are the Grand Canyon.

When planning your holiday, the canyon matters. When submitting your paper, the venue matters - is it the right audience, and does it maximalise the impact?

Article in Science / Nature is vastly more impressive than in most regional journals - which affects your career options.

Sadly, there's no credible alternative to peer review, and nobody has come up with a good system to do that free. Preprint repositories are a start, but you then go on to publish so you can get citations etc. Alternatives are being built (https://science-octopus.org/) but nothing with credibility and scale yet

Given that the actual reviewers of scientific works aren't paid, I'd say that the publishers like Springer and Elsevier came up with a pretty good system (first and foremost good for themselves, though) to do just that. ;)

Prometheus, Titan god of fire, was sentenced by Zeus to eternal torture. An eagle ate his liver every day and it grew back overnight to be eaten again. The Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein, didn't end well either, dying of the arctic cold while chasing his monster. I wish Ms Elbakyan, our Even More Modern Prometheus, a kinder fate. But clearly it's a high risk job.

I also enjoyed the implication in the article that she is an avatar of Saraswati.

But you're right, she faces risk, which the Prometheus story, while overused, better captures.

Her name Alexandra also brings to mind the Library of Alexandria, which is a happy coincidence.

And as for risk, we also remember her predecessor, Aaron Swartz.

Knowledge is power and no one entity powerful enought likes to have it flowing freely. It would become free at about the same time the monetary system becomes obsolete, in other words never. That doesn't mean that the opposition to the powerful should stop and that is what Sci-Hub is.

> flowing freely

Another reference to Saraswati.

The article is blocked behind a subscription prompt for me, but it's implemented in a silly way that's trivially by-passable. It's just some js code that checks if you've scrolled past a limit and scrolls you back to the top if so. Anything that removes js from the content defeats it, including Firefox's built-in Reader View.

Like with many other sites, you can also go: right-click, Inspect element (Q), and then simply delete the whole <div> containing the prompt.

You can just select-all on the entire text and that seems to work too (but I have EFF privacy badger so I might be cheating).

Yeah, I likewise just switched to Safari reader view.

most paywalls are bypassed with * {overflow: auto; position: relative; }

Disabling JavaScript often works as well.

Help saving Scihub article collection (85M papers, 77TB) https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/comments/nc27fv/rescue_...

What about China?

It's famously irreverent towards western-style copyright, seems like it could (well, it's a difficult "it", granted) score some brownie points by making a mirror which is accessible both within and without their great firewall.

Not officially. China is also signatory for various intellectual property laws etc.

They just turn a blind eye towards piracy when it suits them.

Indian courts on other hand have in the past taken public decisions in the favour of common good, like with pharmaceutical parents recently.

A victory here won't solve everything, but it is a start. Developing world is where the licensing fees are impossibly expensive for even universities. Perhaps an Indian precedent would help in other countries.

This could be a big competitiveness advantage for China in two major ways: 1) there is a large contingent of Chinese nationals studying abroad, and them having access to SciHub makes it easier for them to be accustomed to it should they return to China to research there and 2) it would give China metrics on what papers are looked up and by who (sometimes down to the institution level), which might help them find high impact places to build upon research that other people might not have thought of.

Anyone here know Indian law and how it operates in real life?

Why is she bullish on potentially winning the case? Is there a law in India that she is counting on? Or as I suspect she is counting on a sympathetic judge who might rule in her favor by finding some precedent from around the world.

If say she does win how would the appeals process work?

> Why is she bullish on potentially winning the case? Is there a law in India that she is counting on? Or as I suspect she is counting on a sympathetic judge who might rule in her favor by finding some precedent from around the world.

Yes. Indian courts have ruled that photocopying books isn’t copyright violation, i assume we can expect a similar judgement for copying research papers.

from https://www.indialegallive.com/cover-story-articles/il-featu...

"Copyright, specially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public. Copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public."

> "Copyright, specially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public. Copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public."

Jesus, what a beautiful opinion from the Delhi High Court. Go India.

So what's the status of the legal case in India? It's been nearly a year, right?

It's weird that the reporter did not find that interesting enough to discuss.

I don't understand how the header follows from the article?

She seems to be fine. She decided to fight the case in India, on her own, because she thinks she can win it.

> The website is blocked in a dozen countries, including Austria, Britain, and France.

In Austria the providers do block it, but it's still reachable via the *.st TLD. Not sure if that's an official sci-hub page or not, but it works.

It is blocked in the UK, but only using the usual 'good enough' quasi-voluntary measures that cover the bigger ISPs. It's accessible through my more hacker-friendly home broadband.

Hilariously, it's also available through JANET, the British universities' networking system. So essentially every student and researcher in the country has access from work...

The bigger question is: Why promote or condone the gating of view access to published research at all? It's not okay.

Copyright is the law of the land.

It's blocked at the DNS level (at least here in France, it simply does not resolve.) I switched to DNS-over-HTTP in Firefox and it works.

How might we help her?

I think persistence will win this one because the moral dilemma is pretty weak here. Unlike with the software and arts, we don’t need to seek a funding model for the researchers when we take their work for free.

It’s my impression that it’s a matter of adaptation before the free access becomes the norm. Therefore technical help and civil disobedience should eventually do the job.

In this case, we are stealing from the CD company without actually stealing the CDs. With a path adjustment we should be able to stop stealing CDs without any monetary impact on the content creators.

free is a flawed concept - energy and time went into publishing each paper meaning someone paid. If the authors want to give permission, then she ought to seek it for each paper she's put on her website or seek permission from whomever owns the copyright. Otherwise it's theft. And no amount of civil disobedience can justify theft.

Some people (me included) consider "intellectual property" an oxymoron. But you do not need to go that far in the extreme to be supportive of scihub and similar entities: I am a scientist. I am paid from research grants, this is what makes it possible for me to write a paper. I am also involved in reviewing papers, but that I do for free. Then I pay a journal to store my paper (the journal did not pay the paper reviewers). Usually I even do most of the typesetting for the paper I write. Then I also pay the journal to get access to the paper.

In this story, I do not feel any guilt "stealing" from a journal that did not contribute anything but prestige to the creation of that paper (and was already paid twice for it, before I even tried to read the paper).

But do you not make a decision (however rational), to grant rights for your article, as an author, and your labour as a reviewer, to the journal?

I'm not a scientist, and I don't know how this works, so this is an honest question. But as an outsider, it seems that the most important intellectual property of these publishers are not articles themselves, but famous journals that scientists all over the world are so eager to publish for. And if this suggestion is right, that don't those scientists actually get paid, although indirectly through eyballs instead of cash? Which they then convert into Hirsch index, and then, through grants and programs and tenures, into cash?

Yes, but there are a few more facts you should be aware of while forming your opinion:

- The most prestigious journals (at least in my field) are not ridiculous prestige rackets like Elsevier. And they are (slowly) moving to open-access models. In these situations the authors of a paper are expected to pay processing fees ($1000 to $5000), but after that the paper is free to access by anyone.

- A pretty standard workaround is to put your paper on a pre-print server before even submitting to a journal. Then some draft version of the paper is trivial to access even if the peer-reviewed version is behind a paywall.

- The majority of scientists and paper writers are not tenured and do not have job security. Currently, their career growth depends on having done "good science" and regrettably the only trivially easy measure of "good science" is the prestige of journals you have published in. While pretty much all scientists agree that the system is bad, it is difficult to fight the system while your career depends on it.

- Slowly, fields are switching to open-access journals. Their prestige is growing and soon the previous bullet point will not be an issue.

- It really depends on the field as well. I rarely stumbled upon a physics paper that does not have some legal open-access option. Not so much with Engineering. So while I truly have no problem acting the way you expect me to act in your comment, my engineering colleagues would have much harder time, given that their community does not have as many prestigious open-access options or a habit of using preprint servers.

- It is frustratingly slow, but it is very visible how the "prestige" currency is indeed switching from traditional journals to open-access journals (either ones that are free and community driven or paid, but paid only on submission, not on download)

“Didnt contribute anything but prestige”? If that’s such a minor contribution, then instead of publishing with a journal you hate, publish with an open source journal? Put your money where your mouth is.

Thats not an option. I need some publications in "highly scored" journals to get my Phd. I dont have the option to publish in open access instead. Its not a matter of having a worse resume with less prestige but one of not getting my dissertation accepted. Its something forced onto me through a process created through corruption.

It is not really money at that point, is it ;) Also, why do assume I have not done that yet?

But you can not expect this all to happen overnight, as people's scientific careers are on the line. Thankfully, it is slowly happening, with or without Scihub.

It's copying, not theft.

The latter deprives someone of an item, the former increases its availability. An important distinction when considering the purpose and goals of Sci-Hub.

> It's copying, not theft.

> The latter deprives someone of an item ...

It's depriving people of money, which is not a trivial asset.

It’s depriving journals from money they could make from publications when they have already charged the authors to publish them.

There is no moral dilemma here : accessing an article thru Sci-Hub deprives nobody from getting its due money. Scientists unfortunately continues not being paid for the paper, journals continues being paid by universities to review the paper, but nobody wants to pay just to read a paper from the journal when it already has been paid for.

So you agree that it is theft from publishers?

No, I disagree on the fact that they are « publishers » at all. Reviewers, for sure, and they still get paid for that.

But being a publisher means being an intermediate between the author and the reader, which they are not since when I buy the right to read a publication, 0% of my money goes to author.

And even, I could be ok to pay them to compensate access fees (lol !) but I prefer using their concurrent (Sci-Hub)

I call this a mafia. The fact it is legal don’t change my view on it.

It's not depriving authors or the reviewers of money, since they don't get any money anyway from publishers or readers. It is depriving publishers of money by replacing them, doing the same thing they do (intermediary between author+reviewer and reader) better and cheaper i.e. for free - but that's essentially just outcompeting them in their own business. Copyright is there to protect incentives for authors, but it should not grant an artificial monopoly to useless middlemen.

For these publishers, that's a welcome side effect. Having a small number of private companies control access to what should be communal resources, solely to enrich themselves and their shareholders, is not how this should work at all.

Also, many users of Sci-Hub would not be able to afford the publishers' access fees anyway. The alternative, if Sci-Hub is destroyed, isn't the publishers getting loads more cash rolling in, it's such users not being able to access these research papers at all.

The situation is closer to the people who pay for AOL dial-up in 2021 because they don’t know that they don’t need it for the broadband.

Definitely some effort goes to running these companies just like keeping the dial-up lines operational. Totally not cool to steal the dial-up, what we should do is to cancel it.

That "ownership" didnt change hands freely. Its a protection racket people are forced into.

It is very simple, i have to publish if i want to get my phd. And due to years of corruption those publications have to be in certain journals.

My work isnt financed by the publishers. Neither is the review process, my doctoral supervisor gets nothing out of doing reviews like these. I also pay to attend the conference, which is mandatory to get published.

I am coerced into signing away my (publicly funded) research to then see it put behind a pay wall. Preventing me from sharing it freely robbing me of the feedback from my peers.

Elsevier are a cancer and only function through forced labor. Not only are they rentseeking on somebody elses work, they are creating a worse situation for everyone involved. Including Science itself.

One very important element that I think is missing from your moral argument that SciHub is engaged in theft is the countervailing weight of the degree to which the advancement of science is slowed down in a world without SciHub. Without SciHub, only the wealthiest institutions and individuals have access to the latest scientific developments. Even then, the degree of access can be limited. Harvard, for example, does not allow access to the number of journals that are available for free via SciHub.

Without SciHub uploading the newest articles, the vast majority of institutions and individuals are unable to access the latest science. This results in the pace of global scientific advancement slowing way, way down. That means that cures to diseases, for example, are either not discovered or the progress toward discovering cures is delayed months, years, or decades. That means people die who did not have to die except for the greed and corruption of the publishing companies and the academic publishing system. It means people suffer unnecessarily. It means progress toward climate change solutions is stifled. It means species that didn't have to go extinct, may go extinct. It goes on and on. It means progress in all fields, in all nations is stymied. It means you, your family members, and your friends may suffer and die from diseases and endure calamities that were entirely unnecessary to experience.

The moral argument involved in this debate is ENTIRELY different than Napster. No one dies because they don't get to hear J Lo's latest hit.

There is a giant difference between moral and legal. It was illegal for Rosa Parks to not give up her seat for a white person. A white person in Montgomery, AL circa 1955 may have attempted to claim that Ms Parks was guilty of "theft" - that she "stole" a seat from a white person. But by doing what she did, she sparked a movement that has begun to create a different and better world for African Americans. Was Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white person an immoral act?

What Alexandra is doing is illegal according to the laws of many nations. But is it immoral? I argue that not only is what Alexandra doing moral, but there is a moral imperative for the work begun by her to continue. If anything, Alexandra ought to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and dedication to the betterment of all humanity. I'm not kidding.

Abusive copyright is a theft from the public. I shrug about violations to the property rights of the corrupt.

The authors of these often publicly funded research works don't actually make money, publishing companies like Elsevier do.

Elsevier is basically a rent-seeking monopoly. They also publish fake journals, and manipulate the impact factor of their journals by coercing citations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsevier#Academic_practices

It's not even about someone charging for their work.

It's about the mediator overcharging for the littlest work they do.

Also about taxpayer funded research being available to everyone, why should tax money go into the pockets of the publishing racket?

Well dude, information wants to be free.

Not theft bro

Taxes paid for the research, taxes pay for access to journals (institutional subscriptions by libraries and universities) so the whole paywall thing just feels like taxpayers are getting fleeced.

Make access to journals free and save us all the penny.

You can send a contribution to the Sci-Hub Bitcoin address: 12PCbUDS4ho7vgSccmixKTHmq9qL2mdSns

via https://sci-hub.st/

Send money to the bitcoin donation address on the site.

Verify it for yourself as well, but I believe the address is


One concern that I have is: what if her wallet has already been confiscated by the authorities? Then all the donations would directly go to the government, which is why it matters.

Thanks to the Archive link I could at last read the full article

Seems like she is not that in trouble, so my concern does not hold.

Is there some way to replicate sci-hub thousands of times in a distributed fashion, Hydra-style?

yes and no, Scihub relies on logins for retrieving new research papers, which would be hard to get more of. Though you can contribute by making a copy of part of libgen archives and seed it, if someday libgen goes down.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21692222

The https://reddit.com/r/datahoarder community is working on it

Legal gofundme.

Congress people or local representatives.

Talk about it.

They will win the court battles. There should be other strategies she can take.

I am really grateful for Sci-hub and don't think I would have done my MS without it being existed. No university even in the US (Except mayb4 levy schools) could have granted me access to all the papers I needed.

I hope she will get her first win in the Indian court so that it gets back to add new papers and advance science and help students as it used to be for the last decade.

We can say here that entrepreneurs in Russia - like Alexandra Elbakyan - have certain possibilities that other's don't have! That's awesome. And SV people have something to be jealous of - something they couldn't pull off. I hope she pulls it off.

Different possibilities in different legal spaces. Any others like that, that you can think of?

I believe Switzerland has been regarded a tax haven for many years, allowing financial institutions to do business in ways that might be considered unscrupulous otherwise. It is up to argument whether this is good or bad for society (personally I veer towards bad, but that's because I'm not on the winning side and it's a way for the extremely rich to evade taxes).

I also know of several seed boxes to have servers in Switzerland, but my knowledge in both of these matters is rather dated. If somebody else has updated info on these matters I'd love to learn more.

She is a hero. Brave, outgunned, and fighting to the end.

I shudder to think what will happen if sci-hub is blocked completely. Someone should put it on the blockhain or something :)

Before scihub, I was in a livejournal Neuroscience community that was mostly researchers - half the posts were "I don't have access to x article, can someone send me the PDF?"

We need a better solution to Elsevier etc but the people who most need it (grad students living on a 30k stipend) have little power to fight things, and every reason not to stick their neck out when their future depends on publishing to paid journals.

I can't think of anyone who has done more for the scientific development of mankind in the last 10 years than Alexandra.

I agree. I honestly think she deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for the contributions she has already made toward the advancement of science. Among other types of people who can nominate an individual for a Nobel (mostly elected government officials), there's also the category of: "University professors, professors emeriti and associate professors of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology, and religion; university rectors and university directors (or their equivalents); directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institute." (https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/)

I do not meet that qualification. But I'd be willing to wager that at least one person frequenting this forum does. If you meet the qualifications to nominate a person for a Nobel Peace Prize, please consider nominating Alexandra. The deadline is midnight CET, Jan 31.

What will happen to research outside wealthy institutions if Sci-Hub shuts down? Are there alternatives?

Lots of people upload their research to ResearchGate (even though I really dislike the site for other reasons), make it available from their research group's web page, or in some fields upload it to ArXiv or BioRxiv. It's usually not against the terms of paywalled journals to do any of these things. Google Scholar or even the regular Google search engine can be decent at finding these PDF links. As a last resort, if you're serious about wanting to read a paper, you can contact the corresponding author, who will usually email you a copy and be glad you are interested in his/her work, though this becomes a bit impractical if you need access to multiple references.

Good points, but there is another use case: AFAIK (and in my limited experience), much of research involves reviewing many papers, to find the right one and to glean information here and there. It's not always a hunt for one specific special paper.

How is that use case addressed when the cost of finding each paper seems to be so much higher?

Many people work at home now, even if they work at wealthy institutions

That's not really the issue. You would set up a proxy, log with your institutional account... actually even with access the sci-hub UX is vastly superior.

Almost all papers are legally available from the researchers’ websites anyway. I’m not sure it’s the big deal everyone makes it out to be in the first place. I very very rarely find a paper I want is paywalled in the first place.

How ironic that the news site where this is published does not allow me to read it unless I subscribe.

Haha well yup.

Something I've always wondered is why Alexandra put her name and identity out there. Would it not have been easier to remain anonymous?

Because Alexandra created sci-hub to open access to science. It was a political act. She was not ashamed, she wanted people to pay attention. Perhaps she was naive in thinking that removing barriers to science and knowledge would trump middle-men's greed and profit.

Was her identity well-known before the Elsevier court case, where she was named?

I thought the publicity for her efforts was made after this, in English language media anyway. Though perhaps I am misremembering the order of events.

According to pushshift, her name first appears in a reddit comment in December 2014: https://www.reddit.com/r/libgen/comments/2m2m1p/libgen_needs... The Sci-Hub wikipedia article first appeared in October 2015, already mentioning her name. The Elsevier complaint in NY is from June 2015: https://torrentfreak.com/images/elsevier-complaint.pdf

One straightforward way is to support many private Telegram groups popping up to support academicians. SciHub was a juicy target. When you scatter the users in other domains, they will regroup and be harder to track.

Good luck to the scientific publishers. You can expend any resources to track users across the Internet.

It's a nice summary of the current situation, but I was a bit disappointed to find no new information.

Scientific publishing’s Napster moment approaches? Although it’s worth remembering that ultimately Napster is no more and the music industry found a new model though another set of gatekeepers.

Clickbaity title, there's nothing new or timely in this article about her "trouble". It's recounting how she's under no new trouble actually.

Did no one read the article? The answer to the question in the title is the same answer for all questions in article titled: No. Looks like she's doing just fine and trying to see if she can actually win the case in India, and if not she'll still be fine. Of course she probably can't leave Russia ever, but it looks like she knew that a long time back and nothing about that has changed.

> The website is blocked in a dozen countries, including Austria, Britain, and France.

I'm deeply ashamed that my country would block sci-hub given that the current system is preventing scientific development.

Scientists should put Scihub in the acknowledgements section of their papers. As in "this research would not have been possible without Scihub".

I did this! I encourage everyone to do it! Include the Sci hub link with the DOI.

Interestingly, when I was still in university, I never used Sci-hub at all. I can download almost any paper using school's network (or VPN) since the library have subscriptions for basically all the major publishers.

I only started to use it occasionally once I've graduated (but I didn't really do any formal research any more.)

perhaps you're aware of this but sci-hub solves a second problem in addition to simply access - ease of use. Using a library's system requires a proxy or VPN or a credential verification of some sort.

Sci-hub requires the title of the paper. that's it.

You do need to enable VPN if you're off campus, yes, but that's it. It's super simple, you don't need to go though library's website or anything.

I use Google Scholar search exclusively to find papers and you can directly click the link to open the paper (and then download). Constantly copying pasting title, URL or DOI into sci-hub is actually a hassle in this respect when you're just browsing around (I guess there must be extensions or userscripts to make it better, though).

Interestingly, every student I know uses sci-hub.

Interestingly it's almost necessary in third world.

That is a genius hack. ("Genius" might be redundant.)

That is a huge problem if you acknowledge using an illegal platform in your professional work, including for your co-authors. Almost the opposite of genius, actually.

Ah, but Sci-Hub isn't illegal. There's nothing wrong with visiting the Sci-Hub home page, nor with using it as a convenient way to access open-access papers.

Right* (depending on jurisdiction, ymmv). Getting from it articles that you cannot have otherwise is (except for the vanishingly few articles in the public domain, which are not really likely to be found on Sci-Hub anyway. I tried).

Saying that the work could not have been done without it is basically admitting that you got papers outside the subscriptions of your institution. It is also against the policy of all the institutions I know, so could be grounds for termination. And again, this could apply to your co-authors as well.

I am really not endorsing the subscription model, but putting something like that in your articles' acknowledgments really is not smart.

> Saying that the work could not have been done without it is basically admitting that you got papers outside the subscriptions of your institution.

Isn’t that exactly the point? How is it not hindering scientific progress if you do not have access to research that you don’t pay for.

It’s not like the journals themselves fund the research, they’re just getting a free ride.

> if you do not have access to research that you don’t pay for.

The situation is worse as most of the research is already paid for by tax money.

> Saying that the work could not have been done without it is basically admitting that you got papers outside the subscriptions of your institution.

Not really. It could also mean: Scihub offers an efficient way to explore scientific articles, and without it, I (the scientist) wouldn't have bothered with all the different paywalls to even check if papers were worth reading. And as such, I would not have reached the same results.

It does not make the work possible, though. Just more convenient.

No because a scientist can only deal with so much bureaucracy.

After a certain limit, they will go into "I will invent it myself" mode.

And here is a different argument. Scientists often have brilliant moments while e.g. showering. So they could have written: "this work would not have been possible without showers". The statement itself does not imply anything about whether they paid for the water or not. Or even if they took a shower. Perhaps the thought of a shower triggered the eureka moment.

That reminds me of a phrase I've heard in relation to file sharing and such: "if everyone runs the red light together, there is nothing to be afraid of".

Can't tell if it's intentional (some variation on Poe's law applies here), but this is a near-perfect illustration of the difference between a rivalrous (space in an intersection) and non-rivalrous (copies of a digital file) good.

I will allow that there may be some harms which can result from unlimited copying of anything you want— but they bear no resemblance to the collision of automobiles in the midst of a busy intersection.

I assume an open intersection or clear path is implied in which case the intersection space becomes non-rivalrous. Automated enforcement w red light cameras change the outcomes however

Probably! If I had to offer a definitive opinion on the author's intention I would agree with this interpretation.

But physical space is inherently rivalrous, and a policy of "everyone runs a red light if they think they can get away with it" is going to have people being disastrously wrong sometimes.

I've actually ridden a scooter in places in SE Asia which basically work this way and it's... different. Less insane than it sounds, or looks like, but the rates of traffic fatality are objectively much higher.

This is why I thought it was interesting enough to comment upon.

That metaphor backfirews pretty hard IMO, is that intentional?

How so? Everyone running a light together is the expected behavior if you change the color of the light. In other words, it describes nothing that isn't occurring constantly everywhere. Where does the metaphor backfire?

The metaphor backfires because if everyone runs red lights they will collide with one another, as well as with those going through green lights.

> if everyone runs red lights they will collide with one another

In the same way that if everyone runs green lights, they'll collide with one another? How do you go through intersections?

Red lights rarely exist in the middle of a road just to slow down traffic, they mainly exist at intersections to allow people on different roads to take turns. It's really not a useful metaphor in this context.

Green lights... are synchronized to avoid collisions.

Imagine an intersection with 3 independent entrances. Normally 1 is green and 2 red. If everyone runs red lights, then we have cars entering from 3 ways instead of the normal 1. The result is collisions in the middle of the intersection.

"Running a red light" does not just mean "go when it's red" but it explicitly means "transgressing a stop signal". That there can be stop signals on multiple entrances also is complicating and sets up the crash.

Doing it and claiming to have done it in a professional setting are quite different though. I am perfectly willing to believe that a lot of researchers use Sci-Hub (though from my experience they tend to use Researchgate more); I am certain that the number of people who would shout about doing it on the rooftops is nowhere near even a small minority.

What you say does not correspond to my personal experience. As a single data point, in my research group all twelve phd students and five postdocs use SciHub regularly. Some of the faculty don't know it even exists, others do.

Courageous, I would say. More important than genius.

If you don't have the courage, you can also do it indirectly: simply reference a paper that states that it would not be possible without Scihub. Then, your paper would not be possible without Scihub either :)

Yes, that would fit better.

How so? Might not want to mention it in the same footnote as the grant number.

I had a snarky remark about Galileo and Copernicus, but it’s probably not relevant.

> I'm deeply ashamed that my country would block sci-hub given that the current system is preventing scientific development.

Are you in France? In that case you'll find that french academic librarians are extremely open to this stuff. I have participated in some proposals to cancel all elsevier+other library subscriptions and give all that money directly to SciHub, and the librarians were always very receptive to the idea. Unfortunately, this sort of initiative inevitably gets stuck in the upper echelons of some administrative procedure and never materializes. I guess predatory editors have a deeply entrenched influence within the academic institutions, otherwise I don't understand how that happens...

It probably eventually reaches the ears of someone who's heard of the concept of a lawsuit, and is deeply afraid of Elsevier making an example of a school by suing it into the stone-age, something they desperately want to do to scare every other school away from Sci-Hub.

Libgen seems to be blocked in at least some parts of the US as well.

I tried to access it while reading this thread, and couldn't. Then I remembered I had activated my VPN and I was tunnelling through the US.

> Libgen seems to be blocked in at least some parts of the US as well.

maybe an ISP or VPN service thing?

I had no problem in so-cal. I tried tunnels in NorCal/Oregon/Washington, no problems there either.

> Britain

Not blocked for me at the the original domain

It used to be, but recently I've been able to view Sci Hub again.

Publishing papers in journals isn't about scientific development, it's about publish-persish. The issue is the journals suck-in the papers and then walled-garden them like they were their original research when they are simply the publisher.

Academia needs to throw away for-profit journal publishers and leave it with social co-ops and nonprofits.

No. This is an example of “have your cake and eat it too”.

Scientists want to publicize in a prestigious journal. Elsevier is prestigious. Elsevier charges a subscription fee. Other scientists can’t access it.

So what scientists want is to be able to publish in the most prestigious journals and have free access to them.

It’s like if I said “i want to be able to attend the most prestigious school but I don’t want to pay for it”.

Except in this case, what makes a journal prestigious is not the subscription fees that the school has to pay, but the free work of editors and peer reviewers that perform selection from the submitted papers.

There are free-access journals out there that charge virtually no fees, and still have excellent quality / reputation. One such example is Quantum: https://quantum-journal.org/

Then maybe scientists should stop donating their time? Or do they get something out of it?

And it's certainly not the peer review that makes it prestigious since those are anonymous.

As a scientist who does not need extra brownie points, this is exactly what I'm doing: every single review request coming from an Elsevier publication is ignored.

And, yes, it is the quality of peer review (i.e. the work done by unpaid editors and reviewers) that makes a certain publication prestigious or not.

Elsevier does typesetting and distribution, both of which can easily be done otherwise (see LaTeX and Sci-Hub). It sure as hell does not do peer review.

Scientists are indeed moving slowly in that direction. It seems you are under the mistaken belief that they complain without doing anything about it. The fact that someone is vocally unhappy with a flawed status quo, does not mean they are not doing something about it. However, the issue with status quos is that it takes time to change them. Why are you ranting even after being shown examples of scientists doing exactly what you want them to do?

Also, it is indeed the presence of very selective peer review that is a big part of "prestige". This is why free community driven open access journals are slowly overtaking the old journals. The price of a journal publication does not correlate much with the prestige. There are even examples of reverse correlation.

When Elsevier is trying to strong arm universities with high fees and threatening copyright lawsuits, seems like a good time to stop helping them entirely? Why on earth would you keep donating your time to them?

Oh yeah, you want those juicy prestigious papers still.

Your premise is a fantasy. Yes, many people for long time have boycotted Elsevier.

I am really confused, why are you assuming people that are vocal about this continue reviewing for Elsevier (or assuming this about me in particular)? This is simply not happening. Is it really that surprising to you that only part of a community is working on the social problems in the community, while the rest is focusing on their main work: science.

This is a general attitude among every naysayer against progress: "you can not demand that society changes for the better if you are active part of society". Do you not see how ridiculous that is?

And you were already given examples of prestigious journals that have transitioned to the open access model. And universities that boycott elsevier. And grant agencies that demand work to be published open access. What more do you want? For this to have happened last decade? Well, things take time.

Some people have boycotted Elsevier. The vast majority of scientists have not - they continue to get their papers published by Elsevier journals, donate their time as editors and donate their time for peer review.

Let me be more direct - why? If Elsevier is clearly the "bad guy" here?

And if. as your put it, "as decade later" scientists are still donating their time for free, why do you think it will change? How long does it take?

The answer is trivial: because of inertia, they have much more important and interesting work to do, so the activism is left for the few. But again, in every single comment of yours you are neglecting the monumental progress that has already happened: open access is a fairly standard requirement for top institutions and becoming more common. The world you are imagining in your complaints does not exist.

Open access is not fairly standard. In my area (chemistry) there is no requirement and people stick to the paid journals. Why? Because of the prestige, which was my point all along.

Despite all the complaints of being "predatory", people still submit to those journals and volunteer their time. Why? Stockholm Syndrome? No. "Inertia"? No.

It's because they get something they can't get out of open source journals - a publication in a highly prestigious journal.

My point is everyone likes to say Elsevier offers "nothing" yet, what you call "inertia" (I call it "wanting what Elsevier has to offer") keeps them coming back to you point - maybe for decades?

OK, so you are both negatively affected by the bad status quo and at the same time rant against the people that try to change it. What is the point of that behavior? Why are you yourself not trying to help these people change the status quo?

No, my point is: 1) the journals aren't the problem, the requirement to publish in them is and 2) until the incentives change, scientists won't move away from those journals.

> It’s like if I said “i want to be able to attend the most prestigious school but I don’t want to pay for it”.

I think it's interesting to note that in many European countries the top schools are free to attend.

Sure, but it's because the gov't subsidizes the cost of schools. Are you suggesting they subsidize the cost of journal subscriptions to the point they are free?

That is what has occurred in Uruguay and Egypt. If that grants universal access to the people, then it is a solution. The problem with that model, though, is that governments are then double-paying in many cases. First by paying for the research that birthed the paper and then by paying for access to the paper that resulted from the research the government paid for.

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