Sunday, 21 February 2016


Be quick, though, I can't see its lasting

I drafted this posting last Monday but with my elementary Internet skills I could not find how to access Sci-Hub. Yesterday Rony Schencker passed me the following URL, for which I am exceedingly grateful:

I had not heard of the long established top-level domain '.io'. I find that it is the British Indian Ocean Territory:

The link works, and so does Sci-Hub

At the moment academic and scientific journal articles are open to all, free of charge, through Alexandra Elbakyan's Sci-Hub website.

Read about it in Emma Henderson's article last week in the Independent newspaper –
Millions of academic papers have been made available online after a Russian neuroscientist set up a website offering them for free...
The website, which has more than 47,000,000 papers, began as Ms Elbakyan was forced to pay to read articles while doing her own research –
'Payment of $32 (£22) is just insane when you need to skim or read tens of hundreds of these papers to do research...'
The website’s motto is 'to remove all barriers in the way of science', describing itself as “the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers'.
The struggle continues

What a treat but, I suspect, the publishers may well still see off her challenge, in the short term anyway.

In the meanwhile, use this window while it is open. And no, I do not find a great moral problem in encouraging others in free access to knowledge.

I cannot really see this as theft. Some of my own stuff, on a variety of topics is locked up in behind paywalls. In the normal course of events, as a private individual with no access to an academic library, I cannot even access it myself online and there is limited point in letting others have the links if their financial resources are as limited as mine. Of course, it is not really 'locked up', you can buy access to it (though be assured, if you do pay then I myself do not see a penny of it, everything goes to the commercial companies that hold the rights). You might feel the old, saying 'All property is theft' a little extreme, and I am not so daft to think that somebody is making a mint from what little I have struggled to write for academic journals over the years. But at least making this particular product of my labours free and open access might ensure that a few more people would be able to glance at it.

That is after all why wrote it in the first place, to be read. I did not write it to contribute to the incomes of shareholders somewhere, I was not paid for my material, nor did I even do it for career advancement since I have never held a tenured academic post.

My field over the last thirty or so years, Conductive Education, has so far failed to become an academic-scientific one. Perhaps one reason for this has been that most people in Conductive Education do not have ready access to academic literature – perhaps nowadays this can begin to change.

Since the advent of online publishing I no longer join in the ritual dance to get published in 'the journals'. I know that there are serious questions around self-publishing and the open-access movements but there are big-enough open- and self-publishing sectors now to suggest that the world can find solutions to these.

Just maybe Alexandra Elbakyan's initiative may prove a further hurdle tumbled in the battle to liberate academic journal articles from the mort main of the 'academic publishers'. We shall have to see. I am not holding my breath for major long-term change immediately, but it is nice to hope that one day the world may see this.

Try it for yourself

Go to, enter the URK of the paywalled article that you would like to read, and press Open. What a liberation!

What has been going on?

Sci-Hub, Libgen, Bookfi et al...


Henderson, E. (2016) Pirate website offering millions of academic papers for free refuses to close despite lawsuit, Independent, 15 February

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