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Toll-based access vs pirate access: a webometric study of academic publishers

Raashida Amin (University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India)
Arshia Ayoub (University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India)
Sumeera Amin (University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India)
Zahid Ashraf Wani (Department of Library and Information Science, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 9 April 2021

Issue publication date: 9 April 2021




The purpose of this paper is to draw a comparison of the Web traffic ranking, usage and popularity of websites of databases of reputed publishers, namely, ScienceDirect and Emerald Insight, that provide access on subscription basis with Sci-Hub, on the basis of data obtained from Alexa databank ( Sci-Hub is a website that provides pirated open-access to the research literature, where piracy, according to The Economic Times (2020), refers to the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted content.


Under present study, the quantitative study of the collected data was carried out with help of descriptive research methodology. The Alexa databank was singled out as the source of data. This study crawled through Alexa databank on 01.12.2019 and collected relevant data regarding Sci-Hub, ScienceDirect and Emerald Insight using the search terms, and sequentially. Different criteria were taken into consideration, which include global traffic rank, the average number of page views per user, time taken for uploading, bounce rate, percentage of users, the number of in-links and daily time spent on the site.


The results of this study showed that ScienceDirect has the highest traffic rank and in-linking sites among the surveyed databases. But highest number of page visits were recorded for Sci-Hub with fastest downloading speed. It has also been observed that the users spent less time on ScienceDirect and Emerald Insight as compared to Sci-Hub. This study further observed that Sci-Hub has the lowest bounce rate. Users from both the developing and developed economies use the Sci-Hub, though the highest number of visitors belongs to the developing nations.


This study provides an overview of the performance of toll-based publishing databases with pirated database based on different criteria through World Wide Web. Though, this study in no way supports or endorses the unauthorized and illegal access to knowledge, but such data helps in depicting and analyzing how much a particular database is accessed by its users all over the globe and also determines and illustrates the time spent by users while accessing a specific database, thus, providing the user preferences in information seeking activities. This study provides an overall view of adoption of open resources.



Amin, R., Ayoub, A., Amin, S. and Wani, Z.A. (2021), "Toll-based access vs pirate access: a webometric study of academic publishers", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 33-44.



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