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Frequently asked questions

Why is OpenAthens more effective than IP authentication?

With OpenAthens, admin users 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.

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 organization 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.

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.

What is the difference between Shibboleth and OpenAthens?

Shibboleth is Open Source software that provides single sign-on infrastructure and supports the SAML standard, as well as other protocols. Shibboleth is usually installed and managed by an institution or publisher.

OpenAthens supports many of the same standards, including SAML but is delivered as a cloud-based solution, supported by a service desk and team of technical specialists who are on hand to assist with setup, integration, and operation. OpenAthens and Shibboleth can happily interoperate, as they are based on many of the same international standards.

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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