The Sci-Hub Coverage Study

library edition

Himmelstein DS, Romero AR, McLaughlin SR, Greshake Tzovaras B, Greene CS. (2017) Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature. PeerJ Preprints DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.3100

Greene Lab

I'm a data scientist

Event details:

Join us for tea, cookies and conversation with Daniel Himmelstein,  postdoctoral fellow at Penn in Systems Pharmacology & Translational Therapeutics, who will be talking about his recent research on Sci-hub, a pirate site for published research, and how its ubiquity might change academic publishing. You can read his preprint, Sci-hub Provides Access to Nearly All Scholarly Literature, here:

Research teas are an opportunity for informal conversation around ongoing research at Penn. We look forward to having you join the conversation!

Ⓐ 2011-09-05: created by Alexandra Elbakyan, the Sci-Hub website goes live


2013-03-20: Sci-Hub switches to using LibGen as a repository to cache articles.

Ⓑ 2015-01-04: LibGen domain name registrations expire after site administrator dies from cancer.

Ⓒ 2015-06-03: Elsevier files a civil suit against Sci-Hub and LibGen in the U.S. District Court for Southern NY.

2015-10-30: Elsevier is granted a preliminary injunction to suspend domain names. Bye

2016-02-10: “Meet the Robin Hood of Science” by Simon Oxenham

The New York Times:

Should All Research Papers Be Free?

Alexandra Elbakyan

Ⓕ 2016-04-29: Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone” by John Bohannon in Science

Ⓗ 2016-04-29: Elsevier wins a default judgement ordering defendants to pay Elsevier $15 million.

Representative work #28

Ⓘ 2016-06-23: The American Chemical Society files suit against Sci-Hub in the Eastern District of Virginia..

Ⓚ 2017-09-05: Sci-Hub blocks access to Russian IP addresses due to disputes with the scientific establishment.

Idiogramma elbakyanae

But what scholarly articles are not in Sci-Hub?

  • There are 10 DOI Registration Agencies
  • Crossref has registered 67% of all DOIs in existence
  • In March 2015, 99.9% of English Wikipedia DOI links were registered via Crossref
  • 90% of newly published articles in the sciences have DOIs
  • Catalog of 87,542,370 DOIs

Metadata for porn from the Entertainment Identifier Registry

Data from "The State of OA" Study

Data from "The State of OA" Study

How do oaDOI & Sci-Hub compare to the access of a top research university library?

Jacob Levernier

While this study had a number of interesting aspects, its virtual lack of success as a tool for reducing the library's journal budget was largely due to the fact that the overall problem was seen by everyone concerned as a library problem. As such, the only solution available to the library in 1981 was to use monograph and binding funds to help offset the shortfall in the serials and journals budget. While the biology and chemistry libraries were spared drastic cuts because of very generous support from divisional funds, Caltech's engineering libraries were extremely hard hit, and only now after nearly seven years have they recovered (just in time for the current crisis). It should be pointed out here that from 1974 to 1983 the materials budgets for the departmental libraries were the responsibility of appropriate divisions.

Serials Crisis

Dana Roth (1990) "The Serials Crisis Revisited"

The Serials Librarian.

Dana Roth (1990) "The Serials Crisis Revisited"

The Serials Librarian.

Source: Association of Research Libraries. Expenditure Trends in ARL Libraries, 1986–2015

Prices 1986–2015

  1. Inflation — 118%
  2. Library expenditures — 197%
  3. Journal subscriptions 521%

What library will continue to subscribe if a growing proportion of articles is available for free elsewhere?
Tom Reller (2013) Vice President, Elsevier

Defendants’ actions also threaten imminent irreparable harm to Elsevier because it appears that the Library Genesis Project repository may be approaching (or will eventually approach) a level of “completeness” where it can serve as a functionally equivalent, although patently illegal, replacement for ScienceDirect.

DeMarco, Hirschberg & Sen (2015) Attorneys for Elsevier


  • Science: Sci-Hub’s cache of pirated papers is so big, subscription journals are doomed, data analyst suggest
  • Inside Higher Ed: Inevitably Open
  • Quartz: A pirating service for academic journal articles could bring down the whole establishment

Sci-Hub  ⇒ open scholarly literature?

Libre Open Access

Monthly Bitcoin Donations

Penn Libraries Research Tea: Sci-Hub & the Future of Publishing

By Daniel Himmelstein

Penn Libraries Research Tea: Sci-Hub & the Future of Publishing

Research Tea with Dr. Daniel Himmelstein, Sci-Hub & the Future of Publishing on 2017-10-18. This presentation is released under a CC BY 4.0 license.

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