In a 2015 New York Times op-ed the chief medical officer of Liberia argued that the Ebola pandemic responsible for the loss of over 2,200 lives could have been prevented if not for a paywall blocking access to an article from 1982. Dividing the world’s scientists with a paywall in the middle of a global humanitarian crisis is an unacceptable and unforgivable act of criminal greed. In the developing world the price for a single article can amount to as much as half a week’s salary for a physician. A few days ago, I found an early-release coronavirus article with a $35.95 access fee for non-subscribers. The fury I felt brought tears to my eyes.
Me and a few friends share that fury, so we gathered a collection of five-thousand scientific studies covering any article title containing “coronav*” from 1968-2020. The scope of the papers spans not only the 7 human coronaviruses, but up to 40 other Coronaviridae family strains. The Ebola virus showed us that every study counts. We are on the first step towards compiling a complete open-access Coronaviridae research catalog for the world’s scientists, journalists, and virology experts to draw from to fight the virus and save lives.
Our project is illegal, but it’s the right thing to do in this crisis. We refuse to put copyright before human lives. Sharing everything we know about the virus is essential, which is why international scientists are openly sharing their coronavirus findings in an unprecedented way. Developing-world scientists often work without article access due to complex and expensive contract agreements between publishers, universities, and hospitals, relying on overseas colleagues to help them hunt down PDF files. The virus is not going to wait for this, so we need to act with conviction, now.
To their credit, publishers made a few dozen papers open-access in the last few days, which you can find over at Elsevier’s Novel Coronavirus Information Center and Wiley’s Coronavirus collection. While Wiley is slating to shut down their collection in April, our collection won’t be shutting down anytime soon. We’re going to keep growing to help our scientists out, and you can help us complete the catalog by identifying any papers we missed. All extant Coronaviridae research, accessible in seconds, by any scientist in the world. It’s the least we can do to help.Methodology
How did we do it?
We scanned Sci-Hub‘s 80 million title collection for the coronavirus, then we extracted the titles and Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) to an index, and exported the PDF files to upload them to The-Eye.eu’s full-text search repository.
How can I help?
You can help us identify new articles by joining our team spreadsheet here. Request access and you can begin adding new article titles to the list. You can also help share word of the collection with the scientific community by reaching out to journalists or other
Who is helping us?
Our brave host is The-Eye.eu, a “non-profit, community driven platform dedicated to the archiving and long-term preservation of any and all data,” making this project just one of the many public access preservation projects they stand behind. You can aid projects like this one by donating toward their server bills.
A thank you to Sci-Hub and Library Genesis.
Last year communities across reddit (including r/seedboxes and r/DataHoarder) came together in a mission to secure and preserve Sci-Hub and Library Genesis, collectively the two largest free and open non-profit library collections in the world: Sci-Hub’s 80-million scientific article database that made this project possible, and LibGen’s 2.5-million scientific-book collection. The libraries fulfill United Nations world development goals mandating the removal of restrictions on access to science, and they serve developing world doctors, academic researchers, and other experts in society with the knowledge they need to build a better world. Keeping these libraries open and thriving means saving lives, educating the world, and providing invaluable science to humanity’s global experts.
Thank you to everyone involved in the project, The-Eye.eu for their support, and to all the scientists around the world working on behalf of humanity today.