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July 21, 2010

Getting techie... what questions should we be asking of publishers?

The Licence Negotiation team here are thinking about the kinds of technical questions they should be asking publishers and other content providers as part of their negotiations with them. The aim isn't to embed the answers to those questions in contractual clauses - rather, it is to build up a useful knowledge base of surrounding information that may be useful to institutions and others who are thinking about taking up a particular agreement.

My 'starter for 10' set of questions goes like this:

  • Do you make any commitment to the persistence of the URLs for your published content? If so, please give details. Do you assign DOIs to your published content? Are you members of CrossRef?
  • Do you support a search API? If so, what standard(s) do you support?
  • Do you support a metadata harvesting API? If so, what standard(s) do you support?
  • Do you expose RSS and/or Atom feeds for your content? If so, please describe what feeds you offer?
  • Do you expose any form of Linked Data about your published content? If so, please give details.
  • Do you generate OpenURLs as part of your web interface? Do you have a documented means of linking to your content based on bibliographic metadata fields? If so, please give details.
  • Do you support SAML (Service Provider) as a means of controlling access to your content? If so, which version? Are you a member of the UK Access Management Federation? If you also support other methods of access control, please give details.
  • Do you grant permission for the preservation of your content using LOCKSS, CLOCKSS and/or PORTICO? If so, please give details.
  • Do you have a statement about your support for the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)? If so, please give details?

Does this look like a reasonable and sensible set of questions for us to be asking of publishers? What have I missed? Something about open access perhaps?


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Do you have agreements with central metadata index providers (like Summon, PrimoCentral, EBSCO Discovery) for including your metadata?

In what formats do you provide fulltext articles (HTML, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, .....)?

In what form do you provide usage statistics? Is it COUNTER-compliant?

Thanks both.

Dorothea... re: COUNTER - yes, both COUNTER and SUSHI were on my original list but I missed them off the blog post for some reason :-(. So I'll modify your second clause to read, "Are you COUNTER and/or SUSHI compliant?".

Dorothea beat me to it on the usage stats. The only other thing i can think of is machine readable licences (ONIX?)but if it is a CHEST agreement i guess that is maybe a question for Eduserv?

Thanks Nicole. This is possibly worthy of a blog post of its own, but I think we've pretty much decided to not any more with ONIX-PL (other than maintain a watching brief) until there is clearer demand for it from the user community (i.e. librarians). The current use-cases are not compelling enough and until librarians put pressure on systems suppliers to support it there seems little point in investing much effort in creating licenses in that form. I appreciate that there is something of a chicken and egg problem here but suspect that the ball rests with the chicken rather than the egg!

Does your platform require any browser plug-ins? If so which ones?

Does your platform deliver proper 404 error pages for not found URLs? (NB many publisher platforms don't send proper 404 pages which makes automatic broken link detection impossible.)

Do you deliver structured metadata for content using standard HTML META tags? Do you include structured metadata in any content provided as PDF files?

Do you support a content delivery API (in addition to possible search API mentioned above)?

Also ...

Which web browsers and versions do you support? What is your browser support policy?

Thanks Richard. Good stuff. Can you give me an example of a 'content delivery API'?

A content delivery API would give you a way of pulling the published content direct from the publisher silo. This complements a search API nicely, as it allows you to present the content within whatever content you need to.

For example, you could present a 'preview' of the content directly from within you library catalog content page.

Publishers are offering this type of API as an alternative to FTP downloads for syndication deals, but the potential use is much wider.

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