The whole scientific community is hungry for knowledge and inquisitive about ongoing research. However, there are many obstacles in the way to gain the required knowledge and collect references through research papers for their own research. Many tech firms have collaborated with universities to offer grant and own the copyrights of research published through those projects. So other scientists who wish to refer to these resources need to pay a hefty price to refer those research papers or articles. Tech firms have been making profit of around 30 percent by selling research studies, articles, and thesis online. Not every researcher or scientist can afford purchasing these resources online for their studies. This was why Alexandra Elbakyan, a Kazakhstani graduate student started a website with a primary objective of offering the research free of cost to those having an internet access. However, this has cost her freedom as she need to reside in Russia to prevent extradition from the U.S. Her efforts reflect the dire scenario of scientific publishing.
The vast amount of knowledge has hidden behind the hefty fees needed to uncover them. This scenario prevents the scientific community from progressing rapidly. Moreover, there needs to be fairness in the publishing industry. If public funds are used for scientific research, then it should be made free for public. The restrictions over scientific research access also hinder technological innovation, which in turn, drives economic growth.
The scientific research community does not operate with fairness as some big companies control major journals in the field of science. Researchers and scientists offer their findings and recent research activities in those journals. Those companies controlling journals also own copyrights of the published work. This paves the path for companies to charge a huge amount of fees to institutions and laboratories for access. This system is responsible for hiding a huge amount of knowledge behind the doors.
Many researchers and scientists have been trying to break the system through an Open Access movement. Though the progress has been steady, around half of the scientific research papers published have been published through Open Access journals. In 2017, at least 200 German universities did not renew their contract with one of the leading tech firm to offer ease in access. The negotiations over fees are ongoing.
Alexandra Elbakyan, a graduate student also challenged the system through her website and offered scientific research papers, articles, and journals for free. She started a website, Sci-Hub, in which academics share their passwords to offer ease in access. This website has been used by scientists and researchers regularly. Publishers have taken legal actions against the activities of Sci-Hub. The court has ordered search engine providers and web hosting providers to stop making it easy for people to search and access through the website. However, Elbakyan has been changing domain when one shuts down. In a recent interview, she outlined that her aim to help everyone to get benefits of scientific knowledge. She has gained a lot of support from those who advocate free availability of research. Moreover, there is a need to bring a legislation which makes publicly funded research available for public without any cost.