Jump the paywall: a very short guide on how to (anonymusly) access academic research behind paywalls

Image credit: Ewa Rozkosz https://www.flickr.com/photos/erozkosz/

Why jump the paywall? Isn’t that (gasp!) illegal?

This is a short how-to guide, not a post about alternative copyright models and the philosophy of access to knowledge , thus it is adequate to to put this quote here as an encapsulation of the many ideas behind a comprehensive answer to the above question:

“if we no longer assume that IP law is, in all circumstances, the régime best capable of overseeing how ideas propagate and flow, then perhaps we should pursue with an even greater resolve extra- legal means by which to mitigate IP’s worst excesses. Better yet, any strategy for contesting the law should proceed through more than just legal channels, lest we inadvertently reinforce the legal realm’s claims to power, authority, and exclusivity in the process” (From “Strategic Improprieties – Cultural Studies, The Everyday, and the Politics of IP” by Ted Striphas and Kembrew McLeod. 2006. pp. 119-144)

If you need to download paywalled articles and resources and don’t have institutional access, here are some tips, from the obvious routes to the more “subversive” options by which you can potentially jump paywalls:

1- Check the authors’ personal website(s). In many cases you’ll find version of the article you need archived there. If not, you’ll find their email addresses, which you’ll need for option #2..
2- Ask the author: If you email the author and ask nicely, they’ll most likely email you back a copy.
3- That “All versions” link in Google Scholar search results: (https://scholar.google.com/). Run a Google Scholar query then click on “All…versions” found under each of the search results. Sometimes you can find free/open mirrors for paywalled articles within these expanded search results.
4- Crowd-source access to the article: Several options here, but the most well-known are the#ICanHazPDF hashtag on twitter (https://twitter.com/hashtag/icanhazpdf), for which you obviously need to be on Twitter, or the /r/Scholar subreddit on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/scholar). In either option, you post a request with the relevant URL or DOI and see if someone can access and upload it for you.
5- Sci-Hub: http://sci-hub.io/ is essentially the academic equivalent of the Pirate Bay. (be advised that it is blocked in many countries, but you can always find an online mirror). Up-to-date information on Sci-Hub’s status are found on the /r/Scholar subreddit.
Sci-hub also has a Tor address scihub22266oqcxt.onion
6- Library Genesis: Similar to Sci-hub, but is an actual massive repository of articles as opposed to a scanner for open proxies like Sci-Hub. Also like Sci-Hub, has several mirrors. At the time of this writing this mirror is online http://gen.lib.rus.ec/

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