Kostenpflichtige Datenbanken

Justin Peters schreibt auf Slate Science unter dem Titel «“Everyone” Downloads Research Papers Illegally» über die Gründe, weshalb Sci-Hub erfolgreich ist. Interessant ist u.a. die Tatsache, dass sogar Wissenschaftler, die Zugriff auf kostenpflichtige Datenbanken haben, offenbar Sci-Hub nutzen:

«First, a bit of background. The Sci-Hub archives contain nearly 50 million documents, with more being added every day; these archives have been built primarily without the explicit permission of the publishers that hold the copyright to this material. By maintaining tight control over those copyrights, academic publishers can charge often-exorbitant fees for annual subscriptions and one-time access to articles; yearly subscriptions to some specialized science, technology, engineering, and math journals can cost upward of $10,000. In 2015, the academic publisher Elsevier earned about $1.58 billion in profit on about $9.36 billion in revenue. Knowledge is power! (…)

But underresourced researchers, students, journalists, and readers around the world love Sci-Hub because it offers an easy and expedient way to acquire research papers that might be otherwise rendered functionally inaccessible. A thorough researcher will often need to examine hundreds of articles in her field of study in hopes of finding one or more that are relevant to her research topic. If her sponsoring institution subscribes to the journals in question, she’s in luck. If her school doesn’t have a subscription—or if she is an independent researcher with no institutional affiliation—she is left with five basic options: Spend thousands of dollars on access fees; somehow gain access to another library that does have access; persuade the journals to grant her access to the relevant material for free or at reduced cost; drop the research project entirely; or find a way around the paywall. The latter option is almost always the easiest one. Researchers know very well that the authors of academic research papers do not profit from the sale of their work; indeed, they sign over their article’s copyright to the publisher as a condition of publication. So it’s easy for them to justify evading a paywall via Sci-Hub or other means. (…)

The top downloaders for the six-month period surveyed were Iran, China, India, Russia, and the United States; the top publisher downloaded, by far, was Elsevier. Based on their proximity to large research centers (the data show flurries of activity close to New York City, Washington, D.C., and East Lansing, Michigan, home of Michigan State University), it’s fair to assume that many of the U.S. downloaders already had authorized access to the articles they downloaded but found it more expedient to use Sci-Hub than their university libraries, even though they have legitimate subscriptions. (…)

For many overseas downloaders, the choice to use Sci-Hub is less a matter of convenience than of necessity. Bohannon opens his story with an anecdote about an Iranian engineering student named Meysam Rahimi whose Ph.D. research required him to read dozens of papers found in journals and databases to which his university library did not subscribe. Purchasing all of those papers individually, Rahimi calculated, would cost about $1,000 per week, money that he did not have. “The choice seemed clear,” Bohannon writes: “Either quit the Ph.D. or illegally obtain copies of the papers.” It comes as no surprise that Rahimi chose the latter option. And it also comes as no surprise that McNutt’s editorial barely addresses Rahimi’s concern.»

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