Lyman BioPharma Consulting LLC

Advice and Resources for the Biotech Industry

Advice and Resources for the Biotech Industry

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Sci-hub vs ipubsci 550

Sci-Hub vs. iPubSci: Another Look at Accessing Unaffordable Science Journals


Anyone who’s ever tried to access the scientific literature knows that science journals are incredibly expensive. Subscriptions often cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per journal title. Purchasing individual papers online (often at $30 to $35 apiece) is equally problematic; I’ve
estimated that about three quarters of articles in the scientific literature are secured behind paywalls. Ironically, one of the articles I wrote about the problem of unaffordable science journals is now sequestered behind the Nature Biotechnology paywall (it was originally freely available). The high cost of journals hinders access by both lay people as well as physicians and many scientists (mostly those outside of academia). The unaffordability of science journals serves as an impediment to the success of small biotechnology companies. It makes it difficult for the scientists who work there to keep current with the latest developments in their fields. It’s hard to be competitive as an R&D organization when you can’t afford access to the key papers that may steer your research one way or another. Equally troubling is the other side of the coin: rising costs (to the authors) for publishing papers. These can now exceed $5,000 for some open access journals (in which those who submit the articles pay a fee, rather than the end users), and costs have been rising at a pace much higher than the overall inflation rate.
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Why Sci-Hub Won’t Lead to the Downfall of Science Publishers


If you are not familiar with it, Sci-Hub is a new online portal that allows users to download for
FREE any of the scientific publications in its database (supposedly, some 47 million articles). An explanation about how it operates can be found here. Let’s be clear from the outset: this portal is illegal as it violates international copyright law as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Sci-Hub was created by Alexandra Elbakyan, a Russia-based neuroscientist. She developed Sci-Hub after becoming frustrated in her efforts to access the vast network of science papers stored behind paywalls while attempting to do her research. The publications that she needed for her work were available but simply unaffordable. As a result, she engineered this database and is making it available at no cost to the entire worldwide community (not just researchers). While many have cheered the free availability of the papers contained in this database, consequences of a Sci-Hub “victory” have been predicted to be dire.
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