Research: Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature
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
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.
- Peter A Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom
- Received: October 18, 2017
- Accepted: February 8, 2018
- Accepted Manuscript published: February 9, 2018 (version 1)
- Accepted Manuscript updated: February 13, 2018 (version 2)
- Version of Record published: March 1, 2018 (version 3)
© 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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A controversial site provides access to almost all scientific papers.