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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Shibboleth and OpenAthens?

Shibboleth is an extension of SAML which provides a single sign-on infrastructure and reference implementation. It is not a product and therefore no support service is available with the code. OpenAthens provides a suite of supported software and services which allow publishers and institutions to connect to each other via SAML/Shibboleth.

Why is OpenAthens more effective than IP authentication?

With OpenAthens, information professionals have access to granular statistics based on end user account data – anonymous IP authentication does not provide this. In addition IP authentication doesn’t work well for remote access to e-resources. Using OpenAthens for off and on site access across devices gives end users a consistent experience in all situations. End users are also able to access eResources across service provider sites with just one login and get direct access to their personal profiles on the publisher sites that deliver this.

I work for a Commercial organization – can we use the OpenAthens service?

Yes, OpenAthens is available to any Commercial organization which maintains a Library service and/or undertakes research.

If I subscribe to OpenAthens will I automatically get access to e-resources such as EBSCO databases, Elsevier journals or Science Direct?

No. OpenAthens is a “gateway” service which makes accessing publisher content easier and more consistent for users; but it does not include any content of its own. Your organisation will need to negotiate and sign separate agreements with Publishers or Subscription Agents.  It’s like buying a TV; it won’t give you access to paid-for Sky TV channels; you will need a Sky Subscription as well to get these services.

The publisher site I want to connect to only supports Shibboleth access, so can I use OpenAthens?

Yes. Some publisher sites refer to separate Shibboleth and OpenAthens connection possibilities, others only refer to Shibboleth. Both systems use the same connection type, so you can use a “Login via Shibboleth” connector to login using OpenAthens and vice-versa.

The publisher site I want to connect to insists on Username and Password access. Can I use OpenAthens to connect to it?

Yes. If it has a URL address, you can use the “Custom Link” connector type in OpenAthens to connect to a username/password service.

What will prevent users sharing their usernames/passwords?

Our misuse checks (across different countries and cities in some countries).

Why do you need my IP address?

To provide secure authentication into your OpenAthens admin account.

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