Mapping open access to e-resources workflows

Open Access workflows are often seen as a separate add-on set of processes. However, libraries already have processes in place to manage the e-resource life cycle. Therefore, as part of work package 8 (Library processes and open access), the HHuLOA team decided to investigate how open access workflows could be embedded into e-resource management. We looked at two established resources, TERMS (Techniques in E-Resource Management) (1,2) and OAWAL (Open Access Workflows for Academic Librarians) (3, 4, 5).

TERMS (Techniques in E-Resource Management)

TERMS began in 2008 and grew out of a discussion between the authors over a lack of consistency in e-resource management practices. TERMS aimed to set out the e-resource life cycle and to define a set of best practice using real world examples gathered from libraries in the UK and US. The 6 TERMS (described below) were crowdsourced for a number of years before a first draft was launched in 2012. During this period a number of very positive and constructive comments were gathered. This version of TERMS was recorded in Library Technology Reports during 2013.

The 6 TERMS are:

  1. Investigating new content for purchase or addition.
  2. Acquiring new content.
  3. Implementation
  4. Ongoing evaluation and access.
  5. Annual review.
  6. Cancellation and replacement review.

OAWAL (Open Access Workflows for Academic Librarians)

Like TERMS, OAWAL was aimed at new staff. OAWAL was aimed at those new to the area of open access, particularly those that were working in other parts of the library to the open access team and therefore may not have an in depth understanding of the processes involved. The 6 areas of OAWAL are:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Workflows
  3. Standards
  4. Library as Publisher
  5. Copyright Issues
  6. Discovery

OAWAL was essentially an answer to a question posed at a TERMS event. Namely, how does open access fit into the e-resources management life cycle? Broadly speaking, OAWAL was developed around the same time that the Jisc OA Pathfinder projects. As such it seeks to explain some of the aspects of the open access life cycle rather than describe the life cycle itself – something that the HHuLOA project went on to do for the UK and US in conjunction with OAWAL (6, 7)

Mapping the OA life cycle

For this reason the HHuLOA team decided try to map the OA life cycle onto TERMS, rather than OAWAL, in order to see where various parts of the workflow fitted with the established e-resources workflow. However, the version of TERMS that the team used was a nuanced version first suggested in 2014 by Liam Earney at Jisc Collections after mapping Jisc Collections library support services to TERMS (Figure 1).

Jisc Collections mindmap

Figure 1. Jisc Collections library support services mapped to TERM (8)

In particular this exercise identified an area that TERMS had not covered, preservation (see Figure 2). TERMS now plans to alter the 6 headings to include a section on the preservation of electronic resource content whilst consolidating two of the existing sections, Ongoing Evaluation and Access with the Annual Review section.

Jisc Collections mindmap crop

Figure 2. Preservation strand of Jisc Collections Library support services

Therefore, the elements that the HHuLOA team looked at were:

  1. Investigating new content for purchase or addition
  2. Acquiring new content
  3. Implementation
  4. Ongoing evaluation and access, and annual review
  5. Cancellation and replacement review
  6. Preservation

What follows are the outcome of a group discussion where the team attempted to map areas of the OA life cycle to TERMS. We decided to split open access into hybrid and full open access as there appeared to be themes unique to one or other for many of the headings. There is also an overlap between them in some cases, where some of the points under open access could also apply to hybrid OA.

1.         Investigating new content for purchase

Hybrid OA

  • Offset agreements / APCs – Offset agreements are intrinsically linked to journal/big deal subscriptions. Therefore if gold OA via hybrid journals is to be used, these journals must be considered as part of the wider costs
  • Total Cost of Ownership – TCO follows on from the above point. If offset agreements are not in place with hybrid OA, then the costs to the library will increase
  • Licences: article licences (CC) / resource licence – Are CC BY licences the default licence? Not all publishers offer this. In the case of the RCUK mandate this is required. This needs to be investigated as part of the initial desk top review
  • Pre-payment for APCs (and other business models) – A one off pre-payment for APCs may be desired, and could be paid as part of the journal subscription. This may be the only way to achieve an offset agreement
  • OA in aggregator/secondary information sources and impact on subscription – A hybrid journal is not always OA – does the publisher licence content to secondary information sources and if so is the article still OA? For those considering subscriptions to aggregated content – how much of the content is born OA?

Open Access

The following relate to validation for OA content regarding collection development

  • Predatory publishers – although use of ‘Beall’s list’ is not recommended, checks must still be made: the 3 points below are a good place to start.
    • DOAJ / ISSN ROAD – Inclusion in DOAJ is now peer reviewed and requires a number of checks to be made for each title. A DOAJ seal is also awarded to titles that fulfil all criteria. ISSN ROAD lists DOAJ titles with ISSNs
    • OASPA / COPE membership – Membership of either organisation is another sign that the journal fulfils quality criteria
    • Licensing stated – Again, journals that are open about the licences used are a good starting point


  • Other repositories / CORE – In addition, other repositories can be tracked if a knowledge base containing their details is used as part of a library discovery tool. It is hoped that CORE can also become discoverable in this way in the future.

2.         Acquiring new content

Hybrid OA

  • APC workflow – prior to acquisition of new content, it is important to understand the APC workflow with the proposed publisher. This may differ widely from publisher to publisher and often requires training and clear assignment of duties
  • APC fund – essentially who is paying, or from which budget is the APC payment coming from – is it part of the subscription, a separate library fund, or a central/school fund, which may or may not be administered by the library
  • Negotiation on the terms of availability – this point covers the negotiation of the top 3 points in the previous section

Open access

  • Terms of use – Although an article is available on open access, it sometimes comes with specific licence terms that may affect use: hence, there is a need to be aware of any limitations around the access available
  • Institutional OA journals, Library presses, Academic led publications, Data, Books – the rise of new University Presses and library publishing may result in the library itself publishing content

3.         Implementation

Hybrid OA

While this is relevant to publication in hybrid OA regardless of whether a subscription to that title is held, for hybrid titles that do come as part of a package publication in these titles could be seen as part of the implementation of the subscription. Therefore, the following questions and tasks need to be completed:

  • Is the article actually open access (checking)?
  • Is the right licence applied?
  • Record any issues arising
  • Add article to repository (as it is Gold)

Open access

  • Add to discovery tool index – like any title, OA journals need to be added to the library discovery tool – assuming that this has been checked as part of #1
  • Technical testing and checking public discovery – like any new resource, an OA journal needs checking to make sure that access works, e.g. via the library discovery tool
  • Marketing and training – again, an OA journal needs embedding
  • ERM (national or local) and admin information – OA titles should be added to the ERM so that information about them can be tracked
  • Absence of AuthN and AuthZ – whilst open access does not require authentication and authorisation by definition, what options might be available for accounting and IdM to monitor access, plus personalisation of access in keeping with related toll access services

For the next three parts of the TERMS cycle the distinction between hybrid and full open access was less clear, as they deal with how to manage open access materials once they have been acquired.  Hence, the discussions addressed the general issues and are provided as a single list.

4.         Ongoing evaluation and access, and annual review


  • Does the APC workflow work? – Regarding hybrids, part of the review process needs to include an assessment of whether the APC workflow actually works. Was payment always successful, did the correct licences get added, how staff intensive was the workflow?
  • What is the value added by library / institution? – following on from the point above, does the title add value? For hybrids, did the cost of the APC add value? For OA titles, were they actually used?
  • Dealing with user feedback – Were all issues recorded in the ERM or equivalent system? Were they reported to the publisher and will this impact on negotiation – why are you paying an APC if the wrong licence is applied and the title is not always OA throughout the subscription period?
  • Bibliometrics / impact / compliance – while it is possible to measure COUNTER stats for hybrid OA articles – and this needs to be compared with non OA articles in the same journal, OA article usage cannot always be measured. If not, what other measures are there and can these be used to make decisions about further access
  • Usage: Hybrid journals – related to both value added and usage, have the hybrid OA articles proved value for money when comparing costs of APCs and usage. Also, after separation of gold open access statistics, do the remaining subscription titles prove value for money
  • Collection curation – like all titles, OA titles need to be pruned to reflect the needs of the collection

5.         Cancellation and replacement review


  • Implication(s) for OA articles / APC paid articles if a deal is cancelled – Hybrid OA gives further implications than those listed in TERMS if the big deal is cancelled. One could be an increase in APC costs
  • Ongoing OA – if hybrid or fully OA titles are cancelled/withdrawn they need to be kept on record to make sure that remain discoverable. This links into ongoing access through preservation (see next section)

6.         Preservation


  • Repositories – An open question – do repositories actually count as preservation?
  • Preservation policy – Have OA titles been added to the collection management and development strategy under preservation?
  • Shared risk – Is there a shared risk in the fact that lots of copies of the OA articles may be held in repositories?
  • LOCKSS / Portico – Has the publisher (possibly University publisher) signed up to one of the various preservation resources? This should be checked as part of the initial investigation.

Looking forward

The HHuLOA team hope that the points above can be used to promote discussion and further development on how to embed open access into e-resource management workflows.

It is also hoped that after the completion of the HHuLOA project that these points will be taken on by the TERMS as part of a planned revision, which is due to start in summer 2016. In keeping with the origins of TERMS, it is proposed that this revision will be crowdsourced to develop and mature it for future use.

For further comment please contact the HHuLOA blog or TERMS


  1. TERMS blog:
  2. Emery, Jill and Stone, Graham (2013) TERMS: Techniques for electronic resources management. Library Technology Reports, 49 (2). pp. 5-43.
  3. OAWAL:
  4. Emery, Jill and Stone, Graham (2014) The Sound of the Crowd: Using Social Media to develop best practices for Open Access Workflows for Academic Librarians (OAWAL). Collaborative Librarianship, 6 (3). pp. 104-111.
  5. Emery, Jill and Stone, Graham (2014) Introduction to OAWAL: Open Access workflows for Academic Librarians. Serials Review, 40 (2). pp. 83-87.
  6. Stone, Graham, Awre, Chris and Stainthorp, Paul (2015) UK open access life cycle.
  7. Stone, Graham and Emery, Jill (2015) US open access life cycle.
  8. Emery, Jill and Stone, Graham (2014) Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS): From Coping to Best Practices. In: 2014 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference, 12-15 July 2014, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center San Antonio, TX.