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Use of Sci-Hub – risk and mitigation

15 Apr 2021

A message from Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research and Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library

The University will be stopping access to the website ‘Sci-Hub’ from today (Thursday, 15 April).

This affects connection from on campus and any other university network connections. Any staff or students who continue to connect via other means should take notice of why the University has made this change, which aligns with recent articles in the press and the advice from the City of London police and the National Cyber Security Centre.

We have not taken this decision lightly. Sci-Hub is a site that potentially breaches copyright to give access to papers for researchers. The University of Manchester Library is one of the foremost in the country and as such provides the widest range of access to content for staff and students, so there is no reason to access Sci-Hub and risk any potential negative consequences this may have for the University. Users of Sci-Hub, or any other external site, should never reveal their university email address to the site, as concerns have been raised elsewhere that these details may then be used for Phishing attacks to gain access to university systems with all the potential consequences this would bring.

Accessing the Library's subscriptions to electronic resources is simple and the preferred way of accessing research papers. You do not have to be on the VPN or use two factor authentication as the Library have an excellent browser plugin (it takes two mins to install), which automatically detects any content that the University has access to. More details on how to access Library services are given below:

The University of Manchester Library has the largest academic digital collections in Britain, with over 38,000 paid for serial titles including journals, periodicals, annuals, newspapers and conference proceedings. If you reach a paywall for an article on a publisher website, there are several options you can take in order to access the full-text courtesy of the Library’s subscriptions:

  • Library Search can be accessed through My Manchester or the Library website and be used to search for articles by their title or using the digital object identifier (DOI). When the Library has access, the article will display in the result listings and present a link to the publisher’s website. In most cases the link to an article will direct you to the University Login Service page, and upon successful login using your University username and password you will be directed back to the required service.
  • Use the Library Access and LibKey Nomad browser extensions that make it easier to access electronic resources content provided by the Library without having to visit Library Search first. When you consult websites providing access to content which the Library is subscribed to, a pop-up notification will appear. LibKey Nomad is installed on Google Chrome browser in PC clusters across campus, and you can also download it on to your personal device.
  • Use LibKey.io which provides access to the full-text of an article by searching either using the digital object identifier (DOI) or PubMed Identifier (PMID). Many research articles and other outputs are available Open Access, which means they are available to read without needing to log in or pay a fee. Using LibKey.io you will be able to access the PDF or article link to access articles available through the Library’s subscriptions as well as Open Access articles. You can also use tools like Unpaywall and the Open Access Button to search for Open Access versions of material you are interested in.

If the Library does not hold a copy of the article that you need and you are a student, you can use our Order an Article service and we will get it for you. If you are a member of staff, there is a dedicated Academic Engagement Librarian for your School who will work in partnership with you to ensure the Library is meeting your teaching and research needs.

If you want to recommend that the Library take out a new subscription to a journal, please contact your supervisor or course leader. For any further support contact the Library’s Electronic Resources Helpdesk by emailing uml.eresources@manchester.ac.uk or by using Library Chat, the Library’s online chat help service now available 24/7.

Professor Colette Fagan

Vice-President for Research

Professor Christopher Pressler

John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library