Let us read what we paid for
Imagine a business like this: you get highly trained experts to give you their research for free... and then you sell it back to them
. Of course these experts need equipment, and they need to earn a living... so you get taxpayers to foot the bill.
And if the taxpayers want to actually read the papers they paid for? Then you charge them a big fee!
It's not surprising that with this business model, big publishers are getting rich while libraries go broke. Reed-Elsevier has a 37% profit margin!
But people are starting to fight back — from governments to energetic students like Alexandra Elbakyan here.
On Friday, the Competitiveness Council —a gathering of European ministers of science, innovation, trade, and industry—said that all publicly funded scientific papers published in Europe should be made free to access by 2020
This will start a big fight, and it may take longer than 2020. But Alexandra Elbakyan isn't waiting around.
In 2011, as a computer science grad student in Kazakhstan, she got sick of paying big fees to read science papers. She set up SciHub
, a pirate website that steals papers from the publishers and sets them free.
SciHub now has 51,000,000 papers in its database. In October 2015, Elsevier sued them. In November, their domain name was shut down. But they popped up somewhere else. By February, people were downloading 200,000 papers per day. Even scientists with paid access to the publisher's databases are starting to use SciHub, because it's easier to use
Clearly piracy is the not the ultimate solution. Elbakyan now lives in an undisclosed location, to avoid being extradited. But she gave the world a much-needed kick in the butt. The old business model of get smart people to work for free and sell the product back to them
is on its way out.
For more, read:
John Bohannon, Who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone, Science
, 28 April 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/whos-downloading-pirated-papers-everyone
and especially the SciHub Twitter feed:https://twitter.com/Sci_Hub
Also read this:
Martin Enserink, In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020, Science
27 May 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/dramatic-statement-european-leaders-call-immediate-open-access-all-scientific-papers
The Dutch government is really pushing this! Congratulations to them! #openaccess