The ‘Athens’ in OpenAthens Authentication

There are, in fact, two routes through to the electronic resources covered by the Single Sign On service. As far as the users are concerned there is almost no difference between them. Both require that the same username and password be used and both get the user to the resource with the minimum of fuss.

Where there is a difference, it is in the route between the authentication point and the resource. Most access from the DMU Library web site is based on URLs which link through to the resource via the UK Access Management Federation. There are exceptions where the route taken passes through the OpenAthens Gateway.

Here is a list of the resources currently accessible only via the OpenAthens Gateway.

British National Formulary (BNF) 61
British Pharmacopoeia 2010 (BP)
British Pharmacopoeia 2011 (BP)
British Standards Online (BSOnline)
Ei Compendex
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports 1974 – 1996
Index to Scientific & Technical Proceedings (ISTP)
New Scientist archive
Practical Law Company (PLC)
Safari Books Online
Taylor and Francis
Taylor and Francis e-Books (Sports collection)
WARC Advertising and Marketing Knowledge

The list has been getting shorter, but has not reduced itself to zero. These resources would not be available to DMU members were we not subscribers to the Eduserv OpenAthens service. If we were to move today to another shibboleth based authentication system, we would lose access to these unless we could find alternative routes.

One implication of this is the lack of statistical information available on usage of these resources. As far as the Authentication systems’ s admin console is concerned only the openathens gateway has been used, nit the individual resource that was eventually accessed.

Progress towards shortening this list will continue, but does depend on the readiness of Data Service Providers to prepare their systems for access via the UK Federation and the complexities of shibboleth authentication. Not everyone was well established plans for this transition.


About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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