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Today, we want to let you know that the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship is now available in both English and Russian. This is a documentary exploring the crisis in scientific journal publication and the excessive fees that some publishers charge to access knowledge.

Holding scientific knowledge to ransom

Around 70% of scientific publications are hidden behind paywalls, restricting access to knowledge and holding back progress. We believe that this is unfair and that putting profit before the health of others is unacceptable, and this is one reason why we support the concept of open science here at LEAF.

We believe that the paywalling of scientific knowledge is a disgrace, especially when it means that doctors, patients, and carers cannot access important health information because the cost of access is extortionate. It also has implications for students of scientific fields who need access to these papers in order to learn and complete their studies, and it puts budding scientists who cannot afford these costs at a disadvantage.

We applaud the work of people fighting for Open Science, such as Alexandra Elbakyan, the creator of Sci-Hub, a website devoted to providing scientists, students, and researchers with free access to scientific publications that would otherwise be locked behind paywalls.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

We also appreciate the hard work of journalist and filmmaker Jason Schmitt, who felt so strongly about the issue that he and his team created a documentary that explored the problems with the current scientific publishing system and offered some potential solutions. The documentary is called Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. We were happy to contribute original footage featuring Alexandra Elbakyan to the movie.

On September 5th, the global premiere of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship took place at 5:30 PM at the Landmark Theatre in Washington, D.C. We organized the screening on our Facebook page a few hours after the official premiere.

In October, there is to be a screening at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where it will be included in the annual festival in support of Open Science. Information on the other screenings happening in the U.S. and other countries can be found here.

The goal of this initiative is to reach more people outside academia and engage in wide public discussion in order to find a solution that would suit everyone. We are happy to note that one of the big science communities on Facebook, Trust me, I am a “Biologist”, joined us and also organized a screening, and by now, the movie has more than 30,000 views on this page.

In order to spread the word further, LEAF director Elena Milova, with the help of Joshua Conway and a LEAF volunteer who prefers his name to remain undisclosed, also translated the entire documentary into Russian!

Spread the word about the paywall problem

The current system of scientific publications is broken and unfair and does not facilitate the sharing of knowledge. If you agree with us, then we urge you to not only watch the documentary but also to share it widely. The reason that some publishers have been abusing the system for so long is the lack of awareness of the problem among the general public and decision makers. By showing this documentary to friends, family, and coworkers, you can help bring the problem into the light and bring a solution closer. Help science and progress today by sharing this documentary!

About the author
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Elena Milova

As a devoted advocate of rejuvenation technologies since 2013, Elena is providing the community with a systemic vision how aging is affecting our society. Her research interests include global and local policies on aging, demographic changes, public perception of the application of rejuvenation technologies to prevent age-related diseases and extend life, and related public concerns. Elena is a co-author of the book “Aging prevention for all” (in Russian, 2015) and the organizer of multiple educational events helping the general public adopt the idea of eventually bringing aging under medical control.
About the author

Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity and the technologies to promote them, Steve has provided the community with hundreds of educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity reporter, Psychology Today and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book “Aging Prevention for All” – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).
  1. September 13, 2018

    There is a very interesting column in the Guardian today on this very issue, and Dr. Elbakyan’s contribution is mentioned prominently.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/13/scientific-publishing-rip-off-taxpayers-fund-research

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