Black Open Access in Sweden : a study on the perceptions on and usage of illicit repositories of academic documents

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för ABM och digitala kulturer

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to create an additional critique of academic publishing through the lens of black open access – illicit measures for access to academic documents. This is done primarily through the process of qualitative interviews with librarians and PhD-students active at two Swedish universites. The thesis also includes a minor statistical case study aiming to show the usage of the black open access repository (or “shadow library”) Sci-Hub in Sweden. Black open access has, for some time, been the only alternative to access academic literature for many students and researchers outside the global north. This because, publishers are getting increasingly consolidated, securing a hold over the access to academic information through barriers in technology or infrastructure. This thesis shows that librarians and PhD-students at the institutions are overbearingly positive towards black open access alternatives, often citing the publisher hegemony as the main reason for the emergence of illicit routes of information retrieval. Furthermore, the statistical study shows that the usage of Sci-Hub is very low in Sweden. This can be attributed to a still functioning information infrastructure in Sweden or usage of other platforms and more informal exchanges of “pirated” literature.

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