How to use Sci-hub to get academic papers for free

I regularly tell people on Twitter to use Sci-hub when they say they can’t access papers:

However, it seems that people don’t really know how to use Sci-hub. So here is a simple, visual guide.

1. Go to the Sci-hub website

The URL may change to the website because the lobbyists of Big Publish (Elsevier, SAGE etc.) constantly tries to get government to censor the website as it cuts into their rent-seeking profits. You can find the latest URLs via Wikipedia. Currently, some working URLs are:

If your country blocks the website, use one of the many free general purpose proxies. I tested hide.me for the purpose of writing this article and it works fine for Sci-hub using the Netherlands exit.

2. Go to the journal publisher’s website

Go to the website of whatever article it is you are trying to get. Here we pretend you want the article in my tweet above:

The website for this is sciencedirect.com which is Elsevier’s cover name. Then, you locate either the URL for this (i.e. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004873331730210X) or the article’s DOI. The DOI is that unique document identifier that begins with “10.”. It is almost always shown somewhere on the site, so you can use search “10.” to find it. In rare cases, it is in the page’s source code or may not exist. If it doesn’t exist, it means you usually can’t get the article thru Sci-hub. When you have the article’s URL/DOI, you simply paste this into the Sci-hub search box. Like this:

URL:

DOI:

Then you click “open” and you should get something like this:

In some cases, this may not work. The APA journals seem to cause issues using the URL approach, so use the DOI approach. Sometimes Sci-hub returns the wrong article (<1% I should guess).

Finding articles from APA journals

These journals refuse to give a DOI and they don’t work with URL either usually. Example this paper. A workaround is to search Crossref for the title which gives the DOI, then use the DOI to fetch the paper as usual:

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