I am not an advocate of copyright theft and piracy, but I do believe science is public property. We are being deprived of our right to make many important decisions, and that is much worse.
So the sudden release of millions of scientific papers is a fascinating development. http://www.sciencealert.com/this-woman-has-illegally-uploaded-millions-of-journal-articles-in-an-attempt-to-open-up-science
Personally I am fed-up seeing intelligent people labelled ‘anti-science’ when the necessary information to understand the science is being deliberately witheld. What the public are not short of is intelligence, and they can see that science is becoming a racket.
We are being spoon-fed conclusions by vested interests and policy-makers who hold all the knowledge and control every conversation. And they WANT to spin things their way. Vaccines, GMO, pandemics, alternative therapy, agrochemicals, geoengineering, nutrition, crime, mental health, Zika…
The big science publishers are complicit in this through charging unaffordable prices for access to papers. In any other business, the holding of a commodity exclusively by a single company would be called a monopoly. The mainstream media are now completely uncritical of anything labelled ‘science’. If a major pharmaceutical brand were to announce a vaccine against stupidity, I suspect the BBC would report it verbatim.
How many others, like me, have tried to research many important subjects, and been forced to stop because we cannot access the relevant science? Over the centuries amateur researchers have made a colossal contribution to human knowledge.
How can citizens find out for themselves, and exercise their right of informed consent? By reading the core texts themselves? Not unless they can pay more than the cost of a DVD box-set for each of hundreds or thousands of papers. In some places that might be a month’s wages. Abstracts alone are not enough, because the conclusions of many papers do not match the actual results reported within. An informed society needs affordable full-texts, and it is becoming a new human right.
Now that millions of scientific papers have been effectively made available to everybody, the question is where do we go with this? It may be illegal to access these files, and it may be unethical NOT to do so, depending on why you need to. I can’t advise on this, but this ought to strike up an important debate. Perhaps it will force big players like Elsevier to change their strategy. I hope so.
Caveat: opinion only. Please take your own legal advice on accessing leaked material.
sci-hub.io is the portal to the entire database.