Sci-Hub is an online collection of 47 mln research papers, created with the declared goal of “removing all barriers in the way of knowledge.” Its bitcoin funding appeal is getting keen support from Redditors.
Created in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan, a software developer and neurotechnology researcher from Kazakhstan, the site makes paid scientific content available to everyone. It passes paywalls using subscription credentials donated by anonymous academics all over the world.
According to the Sci-Hub website, it grants access to hundreds of thousands of academic materials every day. It is especially popular in middle-income countries such as India, Brazil, Iran or Indonesia, where many universities and research institutions are unable to pay annual subscription fees required by research libraries and publishers.
Sci-Hub advocates for cancellation of copyright laws for scientific and educational resources. It declares that “scientific knowledge should be available for every person regardless of their income, social status, geographical location.” The website is currently sued by the academic publisher Elsevier on allegation of copyright infringement. However, its Twitter feed states:
“Sci-Hub is a long term solution. The website and its library are always going to be accessible via Tor, no matter what happens.”
Many Redditors, when they learned about Sci-Hub’s request for bitcoin donations, reacted enthusiastically with comments like this:
“They've definitely got my support.”
“Alexandra Elbakyan we love you!”
“Please consider donating, they are doing the Lord’s work. I work in a University which doesn't have the resources to buy all the subscriptions to journals, and their page is a blessing.”
“I'm actually writing my graduate thesis right now, and it's been a Godsend. My university isn't that large and their science journal database is limited.”
Alexandra Elbakyan has been compared to Edward Snowden and enjoys a wide popularity among many supporters of the open access to academic research materials. The critics of Sci-Hub, on the other hand, argue that infringement of copyright laws would not solve the problem of knowledge accessibility.