The use of shadow libraries at Universitas Indonesia

Authors : Fauzan Eka Kusuma, Rahmi Rahmi

Shadow libraries (SLs), such as Sci-Hub, Z-Library, and Library Genesis (LibGen), are online databases that provide content that is otherwise difficult to access (due to paywalls or other copyright controls) using unofficial methods of questionable legality. Interest in the SL phenomenon has focused on copyright infringement that occurs when a database provides library materials, for which access rights need to be purchased, without the knowledge of a given copyright owner.

This study analyzes the use of SLs at the Universitas Indonesia (UI). The research uses a quantitative approach, with a survey distributed to 262 undergraduate students at UI. The frequency of SL use in academic activities of UI students is compared with the use of the UI Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC UI).

The results show that most UI students have not used SLs. However, those who have used SLs report more positive impressions and higher levels of satisfaction compared with OPAC UI.

URL : The use of shadow libraries at Universitas Indonesia


On the culture of open access: the Sci-hub paradox

Authors : Abdelghani Maddi, David Sapinho

Shadow libraries have gradually become key players of scientific knowledge dissemination, despite their illegality in most countries of the world. Many publishers and scientist-editors decry such libraries for their copyright infringement and loss of publication usage information, while some scholars and institutions support them, sometimes in a roundabout way, for their role in reducing inequalities of access to knowledge, particularly in low-income countries. Although there is a wealth of literature on shadow libraries, none of this have focused on its potential role in knowledge dissemination, through the open access movement.

Here we analyze how shadow libraries can affect researchers’ citation practices, highlighting some counter-intuitive findings about their impact on the Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA). Based on a large randomized sample, this study first shows that OA publications, including those in fully OA journals, receive more citations than their subscription-based counterparts do.

However, the OACA has slightly decreased over the seven last years. The introduction of a distinction between those accessible or not via the Sci-hub platform among subscription-based suggest that the generalization of its use cancels the positive effect of OA publishing. The results show that publications in fully OA journals (and to a lesser extent those in hybrid journals) are victims of the success of Sci-hub.

Thus, paradoxically, although Sci-hub may seem to facilitate access to scientific knowledge, it negatively affects the OA movement as a whole, by reducing the comparative advantage of OA publications in terms of visibility for researchers. The democratization of the use of Sci-hub may therefore lead to a vicious cycle against the development of fully OA journals.

URL : On the culture of open access: the Sci-hub paradox



Free access to scientific literature and its influence on the publishing activity in developing countries: The effect of Sci-Hub in the field of mathematics

Authors : Kilian Buehling, Matthias Geissler, Dorothea Strecker

This paper investigates whether free access to scientific literature increases the participation of under-represented groups in scientific discourse. To this end, we aggregate and match data tracing access to Sci-Hub, a widely used black open access (OA) repository or shadow library, and publication data from the Web of Science (WoS).

We treat the emergence of Sci-Hub as an exogenous event granting relatively unrestricted access to publications, which are otherwise hidden behind a paywall. We analyze changes in the publication count of researchers from developing countries in a given journal as a proxy for general participation in scientific discourse.

Our results indicate that in the exemplary field of mathematics, free access to academic knowledge is likely to improve the representation of authors from developing countries in international journals.

Assuming the desirability of greater international diversity in science (e.g., to generate more original work, reproduce empirical findings in different settings, or shift the research focus toward topics that are overlooked by researchers from more developed countries), our findings lend evidence to the claim of the OA movement that scientific knowledge should be free and widely distributed.

URL : Free access to scientific literature and its influence on the publishing activity in developing countries: The effect of Sci-Hub in the field of mathematics


Shadow Libraries : Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

Author : Joe Karaganis

Examining the new ecosystems of access that are emerging in middle- and low-income countries as opportunities for higher education expand but funding for materials shrinks.

Even as middle- and low-income countries expand their higher education systems, their governments are retreating from responsibility for funding and managing this expansion. The public provision of educational materials in these contexts is rare; instead, libraries, faculty, and students are on their own to get what they need.

Shadow Libraries explores the new ecosystem of access, charting the flow of educational and research materials from authors to publishers to libraries to students, and from comparatively rich universities to poorer ones. In countries from Russia to Brazil, the weakness of formal models of access was countered by the growth of informal ones.

By the early 2000s, the principal form of access to materials was informal copying and sharing. Since then, such unauthorized archives as Libgen, Gigapedia, and Sci-Hub have become global “shadow libraries,” with massive aggregations of downloadable scholarly materials.

The chapters consider experiments with access in a range of middle- and low-income countries, describing, among other things, the Russian samizdat tradition and the connection of illicit copying to resistance to oppression; BiblioFyL, an online archive built by students at the University of Buenos Aires; education policy and the daily practices of students in post-Apartheid South Africa; the politics of access in India; and copy culture in Brazil.

URL : Shadow Libraries : Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

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