Is SeamlessAccess Secure Enough? – The Geyser — Hot Takes & Deep Thinking on the Info Economy

“SeamlessAccess — the main result of the work around RA21 — is currently in beta. The goal of SeamlessAccess is to allow people to log in to content purchased by their employer or institution no matter where they are, using a technology stack that achieves “an optimal balance between security and usability.” A big part of this is a reliance on the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)….”

A Warm Welcome for ORCID’s New Executive Director, Chris Shillum | ORCID

“JP: How do you see open scholarly infrastructure developing in the next few years?

CS: There are a number of fairly well-established open scholarly infrastructure organizations such as Crossref, ORCID, and DataCite, and we definitely need to look at how we can work more effectively together to deliver what I might call joined-up capabilities and joined-up experiences to our mutual users and members. So I think that’s one thing I’d like to see developed. But there are also lots of gaps.

We know that there’s huge interest in enabling scholars to represent their work in ways that are challenging because there still aren’t identifiers for every kind of research output, and there aren’t good taxonomies of every kind of contribution that research has made. I don’t necessarily think it’s ORCID’s role to take all of that on, but we can work with our fellow scholarly infrastructure initiatives to lay the path for other groups to come along and benefit from our collective experience. …

So I was involved in a set of very early discussions which led to the RA21 recommendations, and then in turn to SeamlessAccess, which is all about applying modern authentication technology to ease the problems researchers face with access to resources that their institutions have provided for them. This has a close tie-in with ORCID and CrossRef because it’s ultimately about getting some of these barriers out of the way so researchers can focus on doing the research without having to struggle with systems that aren’t joined up properly. Most recently, I’ve been working on an initiative called GetFTR which is about improving the user journey between all manner of tools and content discovery systems and authoritative published content. 

I guess some people might say that these problems will diminish with the move to Open Access, but if you look at SeamlessAccess, it’s about improving access to many kinds of resources that researchers need and their institutions have to vouch that they should have access to, like shared research infrastructure and research collaboration tools. We know from researchers themselves that they really appreciate a lot less hassle dealing with usernames and passwords and access control, for all kinds of resources. So that’s really what SeamlessAccess is all about. It’s not done yet, but we’ve made some good progress in starting to solve that problem and make it easier….

But I think the most difficult and most satisfying milestone which kind of coincided with when I left the Board was when ORCID finally got to sustainability and financial break-even. The most challenging thing over the past decade has been finding a model that enabled us to provide a vast majority of ORCID services freely and openly, yet with enough support to sustain the organization. It’s so easy to underestimate just how difficult that is in the world of open infrastructure, and it was a great achievement for everyone—for the team, for founding Executive Director Laure Haak, and the Board to eventually get to that point after almost 10 years….”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“While allowing users to gain access to paywalled academic content aka delivery services is often seen to be less sexy than discovery it is still an important part of the researcher workflow that is worth looking at. In particular, I will argue that in the past few years we have seen a renewed interest in this part of the workflow and may potentially start to see some big changes in the way we provide access to academic content in the near future.

Note: The OA discovery and delivery front has changed a lot since 2017, with Unpaywall been a big part of the story, but for this blog post I will focus on delivery aspects of paywalled content. 1.0 Access and delivery – an age old problem

 

1.1 RA21, Seamless Access and getFTR

 

1.2 Campus Activated Subscriber Access (CASA)

1.3 Browser extensions/”Access Brokers” 1.4 Content syndication partnership between Springer Nature and ResearchGate (new) 1.5 Is the sun slowing setting on library link resolvers? 1.6 The Sci-hub effect?

1.7 Privacy implications …”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“Some readers might be thinking that this might be a odd time for us to start focusing on improving user experiences with delivery given that the coming of open access might make a lot of this moot.

 

There are two answers to this. Firstly open access even in the most optimistic of projections will still have a decade or more to go and is likely to cover only journal articles. Libraries will still need to provide access to other licensed resources (A&I indexes, image archives etc) that will not be covered by Open Access.

 

The other reason is that some content providers even in a open access world would still want users to authenticate, so they can track usage and users.”

Improving access and delivery of academic content – a survey of current & emerging trends | Musings about librarianship

“Some readers might be thinking that this might be a odd time for us to start focusing on improving user experiences with delivery given that the coming of open access might make a lot of this moot.

 

There are two answers to this. Firstly open access even in the most optimistic of projections will still have a decade or more to go and is likely to cover only journal articles. Libraries will still need to provide access to other licensed resources (A&I indexes, image archives etc) that will not be covered by Open Access.

 

The other reason is that some content providers even in a open access world would still want users to authenticate, so they can track usage and users.”

Beyond Sci-Hub: Cyber Challenges for the Scholarly Communications Industry – Against the Grain

“Given recent reporting in the press,1 it seems that the legitimacy and credibility of Sci-Hub is no longer a matter for debate.  However, the challenge of how to address the continuing threat Sci-Hub poses to authors, societies, university presses, and other publishers reliant on the royalties derived from book sales and subscription income remains — and is connected to the much wider challenge of cybercrime….

Collectively, we have a responsibility to safeguard and manage a successful online researcher experience by ensuring institutional and individual access is enabled to high quality, licensed, peer reviewed publications;  that data is protected;  and entitlements from licensed institutions are safeguarded.  For example, publishers and librarians worked together as part of the RA21 initiative, now called seamlessaccess.org, to make access to articles easier for researchers using their institutional logins when they are not on campus.  As this becomes implemented across platforms and publishers, it will also negate the need for researchers to log in each time they move between publishers’ websites. …

One way that our community is looking to address and tackle these issues is through the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI). …”

Why are Librarians Concerned about GetFTR?  – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Twitter was abuzz this past week with the announcement of Get Full Text Research (GetFTR) at the STM association meeting in London. GetFTR attempts to reduce friction between discovery and access through a new kind of linking data service, and Roger Schonfeld’s same day analysis here in The Scholarly Kitchen provided some information from a publisher perspective. 

Developed by a group of five of the largest publishers, and built on top of RA21’s Seamless Access service, GetFTR was very effectively kept under wraps until the formal announcement — so much so that the staff of NISO, a lead partner in Seamless Access, was completely unaware of the project. 

GetFTR offers clear benefits for publishers and researchers. A direct link to a copy with known access entitlements is very useful. But, it seems some were taken aback by the less than warm welcome the announcement received from the library community.

Today, I wish to articulate why many librarians are concerned about GetFTR. …

GetFTR builds on the foundation of Seamless Access, an initiative that troubles the library community. The predecessor project, RA21, raised many concerns related to control over and privacy of user data and the future of publisher support for proxy and IP based authentication, access pathways that are valued and broadly implemented in academic libraries. The follow-on organization to the RA21 project, Seamless Access, seems to be unable to find a library organization partner to join the leadership team in spite of making a number of overtures, and the group has chosen to move forward with implementation without that engagement. By connecting itself to Seamless Access, GetFTR is “inheriting” a number of the library critiques of Seamless Access….”

 

Welcome to SeamlessAccess.org | SA Site

“Seamless Access is the new, convenient way to access digital scholarly content and services that builds on the guidelines resulting from the Resource Access in the 21st Century (RA21) initiative. It sets a standard for digital authentication based on a single sign on through your own home institution.

The Coalition for Seamless Access is a non-profit initiative geared towards supporting research and scholarship.
Now you can seamlessly find and use content and services outside your institution network anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Research as it should be!…

No cost to use Seamless Access? Flexible implementation that works with your existing site design? Straight-forward implementation? What are you waiting for?! See the Getting Started guide to understand the high-level steps, and contact Laura at laura@SeamlessAccess.org for a Getting Started Consultation to help plan your path to Seamless Access….”

New service from publishers to streamline access to research

“Get Full Text Research (GetFTR) is a new, free to use solution that enables faster access for researchers to the published journal articles they need.

When researchers are using online tools to search for research, GetFTR will provide seamless pathways to the published journal articles they want. Researchers will be able to link directly to the most up to date and best version of an article. To create a seamless experience, researchers will be taken directly to the article, and just the article, from a wide variety of discovery tools that they are already using. Even if a researcher does not have the relevant institutional access to an article, publishers can provide an alternative version of the content. Importantly, GetFTR enables users to access content in this way both off-campus and on-campus.

Publishers and providers of online research services are encouraged and invited to take part in GetFTR’s development to help maximize its benefits for the research community….

When using today’s discovery tools and platforms, researchers will be able to easily tell which content their institution has made available to them via the GetFTR indicator. They will then be able to follow the enhanced links provided by GetFTR to seamlessly access research on publisher websites.

For users who do not have access based upon their institutional affiliation, participating publishers can provide access to an alternative version of the research, which will be more extensive than the abstract, enabling the user to better understand the nature of the article e.g. a preprint….”

Publishers Announce a Major New Service to Plug Leakage – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Today, a group of the largest scholarly publishers is announcing a new effort to improve discovery and access, fight piracy, compete with ResearchGate, and position their platforms for an open access ecosystem. Their new “Get Full Text Research” (GetFTR) service will meaningfully improve access for the vast majority of users who discover articles from starting points other than the publisher website. This important development in user experience more importantly provides further evidence that publishers are finally beginning to address digital strategy in an environment of growing leakage that has steadily eroded their ability to monetize the value they create. At the same time, it probably does not yet go far enough to reset the competitive environment….

Publishers have been working on improved discovery and access for several years now. The effort to create RA21 (now SeamlessAccess.org) is helping to overcome one major access stumbling block by making the authorization process smoother. GetFTR, a service that signals to the user whether they will have access to the full-text and then routes them directly to it, is a natural next step. 

Backed by the American Chemical Society, Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley, GetFTR has two components. First, it enables the discovery service to indicate whether the article full text is available to the user before clicking on a link to the publisher page and if so to link directly to it. It requires that a user has disclosed their institutional affiliation through the SeamlessAccess.Org “Where Are You From” service, which in turn stores the affiliation information locally on their browser. The user’s institutional affiliation is sent along with the article DOI to a service which then queries the appropriate publisher to determine whether the individual should be entitled to access the article. This should take place seamlessly in the background as a list of search results is loading. The user will see, in a list of search results, clear information such as a green or red button, on whether they will be able to access the full text of each article prior to clicking on the link to it. A user who then clicks on the link will be taken to their institutional login or directly to the article without any intermediate pages if they are already logged in during the current session. This is a natural next step to improve access by leveraging federated authentication that is being rolled out more broadly in the wake of RA21. If enough subscribing institutions adopt federated authentication and the GetFTR technical implementation is successful it will measurably improve user experience in many cases. 

In a way, however, the second aspect of GetFTR is more significant, because it recognizes that, in the workflow described above, many users are not entitled to access the licensed version. Naturally, a user with entitlements through a subscription will be routed to the version of record. But the service will also provide an alternative for others who do not have licensed access, an alternative that each publisher will be able to determine for itself. Some publishers might choose to provide access to a preprint or a read-only version, perhaps in some cases on some kind of metered basis. I expect publishers will typically enable some alternative version for their content, in which case the vast majority of scholarly content will be freely available through publishers even if it is not open access in terms of licensing. This alternative pathway is a modest technical development but will have far-reaching strategic implications. 

GetFTR is intended to be entirely invisible to the user other than an array of colored buttons indicating that the link will take them to the version of record, an alternative pathway, or (presumably in rare cases) no access at all. Thus, like RA21, the brand name is not intended to face towards users. Digital Science and Elsevier expect to pilot GetFTR in the first quarter of 2020 through their platforms Dimensions, Mendeley, and ReadCube Papers. GetFTR characterizes these kinds of discovery and scholarly collaboration platforms as “integration partners.” Technical details about the service and associated APIs for publishers and integration partners are available online. …

For publishers, this situation is increasingly untenable. Pirate sites include nearly 100% of licensed publisher content. In addition, various kinds of repositories make green versions available and scholarly collaboration networks provide access to tremendous amounts of content as well. But it is not just availability elsewhere that is a concern. The use of SciHub, ResearchGate, and other alternative sources of access has exploded. With usage growing rapidly through these alternatives, the share of usage taking place on the publisher site is declining….”