During my studies, I was always frustrated by the pay-walls standing between my assignments and the references I needed to access. Alexandra Elbakyan is trying to solve this problem. This 27-year-old woman had the skills (and guts) to create SciHub, the ‘Napster of scientific publication’.
The scientific publication industry is generating $10Bn annual revenues, has margins around 30% and is controlled by big companies such as Elsevier, Thomson Reuters or Springer Nature. These revenues comes from university libraries and scientists’ grants, whose budget largely come from public funding (i.e. the average taxpayer) or philanthropy (like the Gates Foundation).
Unlike most other content-based businesses, scientific publishing transitioned to the digital era mostly unscathed – the Financial Times even called it ‘the business the Internet could not kill‘.
At least, before SciHub…
Alexandra Elbakyan, a 27-year-old researcher from Kazakhstan, started out with the same issues. While she was studying ‘Neuroscience and Consciousness’ in labs at Georgia Tech (US) and University of Freiburg (Germany),