OpenURL is one way to redirect users to the actual website that provides the links to the full-text for the article they have an interest in. Without OpenURL or other similar tools users may end up paying to access the full-text of a paper unaware that their institution already holds a subscription for the journal in which the article has been published.
The first question to solve for services wanting to implement OpenURL is: How to know the website address of a user’s OpenURL resolver to which to send a request? The first approach used by JournalTOCs was to offer an OpenURL option to only institutions using a customised version of JournalTOCs because those institutions could provide us with details of their OpenURL resolvers.
In our aim to further OpenURL support for all our users, we came across the OpenURL Router service of EDINA. The Router is a registry of OpenURL resolvers, able to route requests to a user’s own OpenURL resolver, within UK universities and colleges.
Implementing the OpenURL Router in JournalTOCs couldn’t have been easier. It is well documented and all our questions were quickly solved by the Router Helpdesk. No wonder it works well for services such as COPAC, Zetoc, Mendeley and Cite-u-Like. Now JournalTOCs also offers OpenURL support for users from UK universities and colleges through the Router.
https://openurl.ac.uk/redirect/[explicit identifiers/]?OpenURL request
The Router uses a variety of mechanisms to identify a user. It always prioritizes the explicit identifiers provided by the requester. In JournalTOCs’ case, if the user has signed in with his UK institutional email address, an OpenURL link is provided using both the ukfed identifier and the IP address for his institution. For example, to create a link to the appropriate copy of an article for a user from Queen Margaret University of Edinburgh (QMU) we use:
For example this is the link to redirect a QMU user to his own OpenURL-aware link for an article:
https://openurl.ac.uk/redirect/ukfed:qmu.ac.uk/ip:184.108.40.206/?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.atitle=Patterns of Family Meals and Food and Nutrition Intake in Limited Resource Families&rft.jtitle=Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
For unsigned-in users, JournalTOCs provides an OpenURL link if the user’s IP address belongs to a UK HEF range, for example:
Users are made aware of the OpenURL links using the Resolver logo as shown in this screenshot:
The Router always prioritizes identifiers that are passed to it explicitly. If the identifiers passed are unrecognized, the Router will fall back on the end user’s IP address, and if this is unrecognized, the Router will display a page listing all known resolvers, and let the user choose.
18* of the top 22 UK institutions with the major number of signed-up users with JournalTOCs are registered with the OpenURL Router. This is a good level of coverage. University of Glamorgan, New Durham College, Swansea Metropolitan University and West of Scotland University were not found in the OpenURL Router register. Registration with the Router is simple and free for UK academic institutions; therefore it is not clear for us why some UK universities and colleges are still not taking full advantage of this service.
While restricted to only UK HE and FE institutions, the Router is an excellent service. JournalTOCs is aiming to offer OpenURL links for all its users from around the world by using freely available registers of OpenURL resolvers.
(*) Six of the 18 institutions registered with the Router didn’t have their UK Federation identifiers, and the UK Federation identifiers of two institutions didn’t coincide with their own email domains, therefore it was necessary to use institutional IP addresses to build the OpenURL links for those eight institutions (Brighton University, The Open University, Cambridge University, Queen Margaret University, Portsmouth University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Bristol University and Swansea University.)