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Research: Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature

  1. Daniel Scott Himmelstein Is a corresponding author
  2. Ariel Rodriguez Romero
  3. Jacob G. Levernier
  4. Thomas Anthony Munro
  5. Stephen Reid McLaughlin
  6. Bastian Greshake Tzovaras
  7. Casey S Greene Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Pennsylvania, United States
  2. Bidwise, Inc, United States
  3. Deakin University, Australia
  4. University of Texas at Austin, United States
  5. Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
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Cite as: eLife 2018;7:e32822 doi: 10.7554/eLife.32822

Abstract

The website Sci-Hub enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal's site. Sci-Hub has grown rapidly since its creation in 2011, but the extent of its coverage was unclear. Here we report that, as of March 2017, Sci-Hub's database contains 68.9% of the 81.6 million scholarly articles registered with Crossref and 85.1% of articles published in toll access journals. We find that coverage varies by discipline and publisher, and that Sci-Hub preferentially covers popular, paywalled content. For toll access articles, we find that Sci-Hub provides greater coverage than the University of Pennsylvania, a major research university in the United States. Green open access to toll access articles via licit services, on the other hand, remains quite limited. Our interactive browser at https://greenelab.github.io/scihub allows users to explore these findings in more detail. For the first time, nearly all scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection, suggesting the toll access business model may become unsustainable.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Daniel Scott Himmelstein

    Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
    For correspondence
    daniel.himmelstein@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0002-3012-7446
  2. Ariel Rodriguez Romero

    Bidwise, Inc, Miami, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Jacob G. Levernier

    Library Technology Services and Strategic Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Thomas Anthony Munro

    School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0002-3366-7149
  5. Stephen Reid McLaughlin

    School of Information, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Bastian Greshake Tzovaras

    Department of Applied Bioinformatics, Institute of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0002-9925-9623
  7. Casey S Greene

    Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
    For correspondence
    greenescientist@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0001-8713-9213

Funding

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF 4552)

  • Daniel Scott Himmelstein
  • Casey S Greene

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter A Rodgers, Reviewing Editor, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 18, 2017
  2. Accepted: February 8, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 9, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: February 13, 2018 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2018, Himmelstein et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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