Looking into Pandora’s Box: The Content of Sci-Hub and its Usage

Author: Bastian Greshake

Abstract: Despite the growth of Open Access, potentially illegally circumventing paywalls to access scholarly publications is becoming a more mainstream phenomenon. The web service Sci-Hub is amongst the biggest facilitators of this, offering free access to around 62 million publications. So far it is not well studied how and why its users are accessing publications through Sci-Hub. By utilizing the recently released corpus of Sci-Hub and comparing it to the data of  ~28 million downloads done through the service, this study tries to address some of these questions. The comparative analysis shows that both the usage and complete corpus is largely made up of recently published articles, with users disproportionately favoring newer articles and 35% of downloaded articles being published after 2013. These results hint that embargo periods before publications become Open Access are frequently circumnavigated using Guerilla Open Access approaches like Sci-Hub. On a journal level, the downloads show a bias towards some scholarly disciplines, especially Chemistry, suggesting increased barriers to access for these. Comparing the use and corpus on a publisher level, it becomes clear that only 11% of publishers are highly requested in comparison to the baseline frequency, while 45% of all publishers are significantly less accessed than expected. Despite this, the oligopoly of publishers is even more remarkable on the level of content consumption, with 80% of all downloads being published through only 9 publishers. All of this suggests that Sci-Hub is used by different populations and for a number of different reasons, and that there is still a lack of access to the published scientific record. A further analysis of these openly available data resources will undoubtedly be valuable for the investigation of academic publishing.

Citation:  Greshake B.Looking into Pandora’s Box: The Content of Sci-Hub and its Usage.” F1000Research 2017, 6:541. (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11366.1) .


ReplicationWiki: Improving Transparency in Social Sciences Research

Author: Jan H. Höffler

Abstract: In empirical social sciences research, only a small minority of study material is publicly available, therefore allowing full replication. The number of replication studies published in academic journals is even smaller. Our wiki documents the results of more than 300 replications, so far mainly in economics. It includes a database of more than 2,600 empirical studies. For each study we provide information about the availability of material for replication. This helps instructors to identify practical examples for courses focusing on empirical methods or on particular topics. Furthermore, it gives researchers better access to information on previous studies they can build on or compare their work with. We provide an overview of journals and their policies regarding data availability and publication of replications. The project has attracted interest from various fields and is open for expansion.

Citation: Jan H. Höffler. (2017). ReplicationWiki: Improving Transparency in Social Sciences Research. D-LIB Magazine, 23(3/4). https://doi.org/10.1045/march2017-hoeffler


What do Italian Researchers think about Open Research Data?

Authors: Fava, I & Gargiulo, P

Abstract: From August to December 2012, the OpenAIRE Italian National Open Access Desk conducted a survey to find out what researchers and all the people involved with research in universities and research centres were doing with reference to research data archiving, management and access policies. The aim was to produce an overview of the state of the art of research data production, management and sharing in Italy, and to investigate researchers opinions and attitudes towards a potential National infrastructure for data storage, curation and preservation. The survey addressed more than 1240 directors of research departments in universities and research institutions, who where then requested to disseminate the survey among their researchers.

Fava, I & Gargiulo, P. (2013). What do Italian Researchers think about Open Research Data? [Report]