It’s impossible to carry out quality research without access to academic works and the most recent news from the scientific community. However, if you’re an independent researcher without direct affiliation to a public institution and access to such resources as JSTOR or Elsevier, or if you are a fellow researcher or a student but your university doesn’t provide access to the aforementioned resources—what are you to do?
Certain publishers, especially big publishers, have rights to most scholarly works, and access to this information costs a lot. Therefore, many research articles stay unavailable to researchers and scholars. It’s true that open-access journals have been on the rise recently; however, as a matter of fact, a large proportion of them can’t be truly categorized as open-access. So to answer the earlier question: those who need access to paid research content have to find alternative ways to get what they need: free textbooks online or shadow libraries.