How scientists hide information from people

Nature magazine has included the founder of the pirate site with scientific articles in the list of people a year.

russian sci haker pirete
Alexandra Elbakyan

Each year, the magazine ranks the most interesting and significant discoveries that have taken place in the world, and call the names of people who have committed to the development and popularization of science.

This year, one of the key leaders of the scientific world was not an ordinary representative of Russia – Alexandra Elbakyan, Kazakh-Russian biologist with an unusual history. She got into the rating is not because of scientific merit, but because of its piracy project – site Sci-Hub.

Elbakyan portal created in 2011, when faced with a major problem of young scientists – need to pay a lot of money for access to scientific articles. According to her, a subscription to the leading scientific journals are a few hundred thousand dollars a year, they can not afford not only the students but also universities.

Russia: Meet the ‘Robin Hood of Science’ – Sci-Hub’s Alexandra Elbakyan

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “I faced with the problem that there was no access to the scientific literature, when I was finishing university and getting a bachelor’s degree, I was writing a diploma on neuro-computer interfaces.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “The subject of my work was not very popular, only a few dozen papers on it have been published. But I was faced with the fact that I was not able to read them because they were closed for free reading, and each article was worth tens of dollars.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “Of course, I began to look for and how these articles can be downloaded by pirated, illegal ways. And I learned how to do it after a while, it was in 2009. Then in 2011 I began to actively participate in various online forums where researchers from the CIS countries spend time. Everyone helped each other to get a variety of scientific researches from the closed access.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “Then I decided to write a script that would automate this work. And the site Sci-Hub appeared.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “This publishing house [Elsevier] filed a claim on us in New York court in early June 2015. There is a little point of uncertainty here, because we are not related to America, and the publishing house itself has its headquarters in the Netherlands.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (in Russian): “The court ruled to confiscate the domain of my site and took out an ‘injunction’ so as to ban our work, as I understood.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (in Russian): “We, of course, will not comply with the decision of the American court and we are continuing to work.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “Roughly speaking, about 49 million scientific articles are in our library at this moment.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (Russian): “Piracy opponents say that it is necessary to restrict the access to information in order to cover the expenses. But we can see, that is not true on the example of our site. We do not restrict access to anyone, but we get donations.”

SOT, Alexandra Elbakyan, researcher (in Russian): “Firstly, we will fight for the fact that all the scientific literature, including books and articles, will be available for free on our site. Secondly, the site work does not meet any legal obstacles, as it is now.”


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