Paywall: The Business of Scholarship Documentary in English and Russian


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.


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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.


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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

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.