Author Archives: cjenkin1

The Rights Registry: learning, sharing and growing

Work has been continuing on the SafeNet Rights Registry, with the database now containing entries for 178 publishers. Some of these publisher entries contain information on more than one policy, for example the NESLi2 publishers. We have just started testing the registry with libraries and the feedback has been very positive.

Photograph of seedlings

Seedling. Kevin Doncaster, 2016. Available via Flickr – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Finding Information on Publisher Policies

Around 370 publishers have been identified from a number of sources, including:

  • Publishers of journals which an (anonymised) UK university subscribes to. (Many of these titles are part of ‘big deals’ offered by larger publishers.)
  • Publishers found in consortial directories of publishers and suppliers, such as that of CEIRC (CAUL Electronic Information Resources Consortium) and the UC San Diego Library California Digital Library
  • List of STM members
  • List of Hinari publishers
  • Publishers participating in CLOCKSS
  • Publishers registered with the NISO SERU Initiative

In many cases, it has proved difficult to find policy statements on continuing and post-cancellation access on publisher’s websites. When this information is identified it is nearly always a very general statement that does not map onto our vocabulary in the Rights Registry, especially with regards to mechanisms allowed and any costs to be incurred by the licensee. In some instances, the publisher website contains no information at all on terms and conditions of use of subscribed content.

In general, PCA policy information is found in the ‘information for librarians’ section of the website, either in the actual institutional site licenses/license agreement documents or in terms and conditions of use. It is interesting to note that in some cases PCA and archiving information does not appear in the license agreement or on the terms and conditions page itself, but on a separate page elsewhere on the website.

In order for a PCA policy to be actionable, as well as being up-to-date it needs to be explicit and not just implied. When trying to populate the registry it is clear to see how vital it is to contact publishers in order to clarify their policies. This echoes what libraries themselves are needing to do. The NESLi2 licenses continue to be the most detailed and specific, certainly when it comes to PCA policy.

Contacting Publishers

As a first step to address this, we have drafted a post-cancellation access policy document to ask publishers to specify their arrangements. This draft form is based on the Rights Registry database structure: our objective is to test if publishers will engage with this level of detail.

An image of the draft SafeNet Rights Registry post-cancellation policy document (April 2016) which is sent to publishers.

The draft SafeNet Rights Registry Publisher Post-Cancellation Policy Criteria Document, April 2016.

We have emailed some of the publishers where we cannot find PCA information, so as to briefly introduce SafeNet and the Rights Registry and to ask where we could find information on their PCA policies. It will be interesting to assess the extent to which publishers have fully formed PCA policies and if they are willing to specify them. In a future blog post we will report on our conversations and progress.

Next Steps

We will be continuing to identify publishers to add to the Rights Registry and to contact them to clarify their policies. We will also continue to refine the draft criteria form we are requesting publishers fill in, so as to make it as clear and productive as possible. Feedback from publishers plays a very important part in shaping this.

Currently, we have provided access to the initial Rights Registry to a limited number of library colleagues who are providing invaluable feedback, especially on the areas of vocabulary and fields used and data recorded. We now plan to share the registry with other interested parties. Your participation and feedback is welcomed. Please get in touch at edina@ed.ac.uk if you would like to get involved. It is inevitable that we will need to make changes as we discover the nature of PCA information and learn what and how this information needs to be recorded.

By The Way …

If you were at the UKSG conference in April this year you may have seen Adam’s lightning talk on SafeNet. If you missed it or would like to see it again there is a video of the presentation available: SafeNet: improving the provision of post-cancellation access

The Rights Registry: Moving in the right direction

In our previous blog post we discussed the Entitlement Registry and its role in SafeNet. Librarians are spending large amounts of time trawling emails, paper documents, websites and contacting publishers to ensure the licenses they have comply with institution policies, and to determine their access rights when budgeting renewals. Having a registry to discover publisher’s stated perpetual access rights will help save time and effort and be of benefit to both libraries and the academic community as a whole.

Over recent months, we have been reviewing publisher licenses and have started recording the perpetual access rights information found within. Our goal at this early stage is to understand the information end-users require with regards to perpetual access. What information do you need at your fingertips in order to save time? What information would help you make well-informed decisions?

We aim to provide a clear window onto information provided by publishers with regards to perpetual access. This will require not only the analysis of the rights for each publisher, but also access to license documents or at least links to these to help prove that the information is authoritative.

We’ve established an initial database which allows us to record key information about a publisher and its license, and how that license or policy covers perpetual access. For example, is perpetual access permitted? To what range of material do the rights apply? Are fees required?

Having started to populate the database with information from NESLi2 licences found in KB+ and non-NESLi2 policy information found directly on publisher websites we are revising the flexibility of the database design to handle specific conditions and exceptions. As we continue to look at publisher license documents and terms and conditions we are getting a better understanding of the information we have to record which, in turn, informs us on the design of a system that handles the variations.

Photopgraph of a road sign beside a road, showing a windy gravel road for the next 10 km.

Winding roads ahead!  Direction. Jackie.Ick, 2013. Available under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Challenges

As we dive into the details we are encountering numerous challenges. It has been very informative to explore the different publishing policies and how they cover perpetual access. Small and medium size publishers, such as some University publishers and scholarly society publishers, often host their journals on one or more platforms, each with different policies. Publishers have their own license agreements, as well as their NESLi2 ones, and each license can differ in their expressions of their policies.

Even at this very early stage, it is very apparent that there is a great need for clarity on perpetual access rights, especially when it comes to non-NESLi2 licenses. These rights are either not specified or are not specific enough. Open Access publishers and publishers who are registered participants in the NISO SERU initiative in particular recognise the importance of continued access to journal content, but here again the specific arrangements by which rights can be satisfied are not specified or are ambiguous.

As we attempt to populate the Rights Registry we are ending up with a high number of ‘unknown/unspecified’ fields in the database. This reflects our conversations with librarians who are finding it difficult to determine what rights they have for what journal, if indeed they have any rights at all. It is therefore vital to get clarification from both publishers and journal platforms. If this can be achieved then this will be of real benefit for everyone concerned.

Next step

Having gathered information for several different kinds of publishers the next step is to speak with librarians, demonstrating the Rights Registry as it stands, getting feedback on it and making sure that the service proposition will help improve library workflows and save effort. These discussions will help identify the essential building blocks needed and will feed in to the design and future population of the database.

We will also speak with publishers to discuss the issues raised by our findings so far. We would like to understand what we could do to improve clarity of rights: clarifying the publisher’s position and the interpretation of their licenses will help us, and will also encourage this clarity to be translated into future license language.

Ultimately, the Rights Registry has to provide clear and authoritative data on perpetual access rights which will be easy to find and interpret, and fit in with existing workflows of end-users. This can only be achieved if both publishers and librarians come together and move forward in the same direction.

If you would like to help by contributing to our design and testing, please get in touch at edina@ed.ac.uk and we’ll arrange a short conversation to outline our plans.

The Entitlement Registry: the key to SafeNet

We’ve had some staffing changes here at EDINA. Robbie Ireland left to join the BBC in an exciting new role, and Celia Jenkins has taken over as Project Officer for SafeNet. Welcome, Celia!

Happy New Year! As well as being the first blog post of the year, this is my first blog post as the new SafeNet Project Officer. These are exciting times for SafeNet, so I am thrilled to now be part of the team.

This is not my first experience of working with serials. I have been working as SUNCAT Bibliographic Assistant in EDINA for seven years. How time flies! SUNCAT is a Serials Union Catalogue for the UK research community, delivered by on behalf of Jisc. As part of this job I process and check the bibliographic data sent to us by over 100 UK libraries, plus CONSER, ISSN and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). I was also previously a Research Assistant with Professor Charles Oppenheim and Dr Steve Probets (at Loughborough University), working on a joint project with Bill Hubbard of SHERPA (based at the University of Nottingham) to improve the coverage and functionality of the SHERPA/RoMEO database. This involved analysing publishers’ Copyright Transfer Agreements using a specially created controlled vocabulary. This work was part of the Jisc/SURF ‘Partnering on Copyright’ programme, which had the aim of providing information and help to those involved with open access and scholarly communications, focusing on balanced approaches in copyright for achieving optimal access to scholarly information through open access.

An image of Bergman's Lock and Key store.

Bergman’s Lock and Key. By Tom Harpel from Seattle, Washington, United States, 2004 (Flickr.com – image description page) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Entitlement Registry: the authoritative key to SafeNet

It is clear that the Entitlement Registry is a core component of SafeNet. The overall aim of SafeNet is to ensure that the right people (authorised users) get the right information (full text content) at the right time (continual access), and so the right data to enable this is crucial. This is where the Entitlement Registry comes in.

The Entitlement Registry has two main functions:
1. To act as the source of authorisation to licensed content in the SafeNet Archive, thereby ensuring people get access to what they are entitled to.
2. To provide librarians with clear, concise and authoritative information on the entitlement rights that institution has to their subscribed content.

It will, therefore, need to contain a wide range of information: institution’s entitlement rights; the list of journals these rights pertain to; and evidence of these rights. Obtaining and processing such information to populate the Entitlement Registry is going to be a challenging task. It will require working closely with both publishers and libraries, collecting data from different sources and of varying quality.

Data needed for success

It is crucial that the data in the Entitlement Registry is reliable and complete enough to grant users access to journal content. With regards to historic (past and present) entitlements, we anticipate that entitlements rights will need to be clarified, especially for smaller publishers. We will be establishing a systematic process for verification over time as we get more experience with the data issues that arise. For now, we are undertaking a series of ‘acquisition exercises’ to focus on specific data sets and working with libraries and publishers to assess the data quality. Looking to the future, we hope that we can establish processes to capture information in a more systematic way, with the goal of reducing the sense of ambiguity that currently exists.

In order that all stakeholders can have trust in the authority of the registry, we are analysing the post-cancellation entitlement rights found in publishers’ licensing agreements in a standard and methodical way. To enable this, we are developing a controlled vocabulary. This has to be comprehensive enough so that it is able to cover post-cancellation rights found across the range of publisher licenses. It also has to be intuitive and not overly complex, both so that people can easily see what the permitted rights are to subscribed content and so that others may be able to analyse entitlement rights and help populate such a database in future.

Throughout September 2015, the SafeNet team conducted a series of interviews with UK HE institutions to understand the quality of their entitlement records, how they use these records in the renewal process, and the recurrent problems that libraries face in the post-cancellation access domain. Having access to their entitlement rights and understanding these emerged as key issues for librarians, and we are hoping that the work described above to clarify the permitted post-cancellation access arrangements for a variety of publishers will have a significant impact on library practises.

Next steps

Our next step is to look at how post-cancellation access is covered in publishers’ licensing agreements. We are starting with NESLi2 licences: Jisc investment in this area is paying off as we can easily find current and historic NESLi2 licenses in the KB+ service. By analysing these licenses we can identify what information needs to be recorded in the registry and develop a controlled vocabulary (list of fields) and their definitions. This vocabulary can then be used to populate the registry. This process will be very interesting, identifying similarities and differences to licenses and working out what needs to be represented and differentiated. In this initial phase, it will definitely be a case of learning and adapting.

Ultimately, what SafeNet hopes to achieve is to make the post-cancellation access process as reliable, authoritative and efficient as possible, working with libraries and publishers to provide a national entitlement registry and archive. This is a complex process to improve, but through collaboration and co-ordination it is one that is not only achievable but also extremely valuable to the scholarly community.