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Frequently Asked Questions

A consortium is a collective group of libraries that can accomplish more together than they could on their own. The consortium membership can encompass libraries of a single type or of different types and sizes, and the consortium may be local, regional or national in scope.

The benefits the consortium provides will depend upon the specific programmes and services that the consortium chooses to offer. Typical benefits include:

  • Reductions in costs through group purchasing (e.g., of electronic resources)
  • Increasing the ability through collaboration to advocate for the value and needs of libraries
  • Improving the capacity and expertise of the members by providing professional development programs for library staff
  • Encouraging the sharing of resources among members (including content, technology, expertise, and funding)
  • Creating opportunities for joint advocacy, marketing, and fundraising for libraries
  • Undertaking special initiatives of importance to the members of the group, such as digitization, technology implementation, information sharing, or creation of a union catalog

The members of a consortium are libraries as organizations. The members of library associations in most country are individual library staff members.

EIFL is a global network of sustainable national library consortia. This network is accommodating the needs of its partner countries, and constitutes a powerful community that can interact effectively.

Through this network of consortia we can enable partner countries to achieve important goals: lower the financial barriers and increasing the access to electronic information; enhance the professional growth of librarians; increase the capacity of libraries to employ technology effectively; expand knowledge about emerging trends in information and technology; accelerate the ability to advocate for effective intellectual property laws, and expand access to and visibility of locally created content held in open access repositories.

Ordinarily, there may only be one member consortium per country. Within the country, however, there may be multiple consortia that come together under an umbrella country consortium.

EIFL has developed a consortium road map that provides guidance and resources from the planning stage to managing and sustaining a successful consortium. We will work with you to implement all the steps, from the planning stage of consortium development to managing a sustainable consortium, after you join EIFL.

EIFL’s strengthens libraries through the power of collaboration. We promote sustainable access and exchange of knowledge through global leadership of libraries to improve the development of society and economy in developing and transition countries.

The benefits of joining EIFL are:

  • Access to a wide range of commercial e-resources at greatly reduced or no cost.
  • Eligibility for grant opportunities to support the development of library services.
  • Free consortium website hosting.
  • Invitation to attend the EIFL General Assembly, an annual learning and knowledge sharing event.
  • Gain expertise in creating and managing an effective and sustainable library consortium.
  • Training, consultation, and participation in important library areas including e-resource negotiations and licensing, open access, copyright, and open source tools.
  • Enhancement of professional knowledge and sharing best practices about emerging trends in information policy and technology
  • Become an effective advocate for libraries and benefit from opportunities to participate internationally in policy making.
  • Gain access to up-to-date information and specialized resources via EIFL’s mailing lists and members’ only website.
  • Raise your institution’s visibility by becoming part of a global network.

An application form for new countries [DOC]. Please contact us for more information at info [at] eifl.net.

Partner consortia pay an annual fee to partake in the programs and services of EIFL. This fee is calculated according to three main factors: GDP (Gross Domestic Product), GNI (Gross National Income) and the Education Index. The fee structure is reviewed every three years. There is a minimal annual participation fee of €378 and a maximum of €5411.

Yes. If a group of libraries is in the process of forming of a consortium and is seeking EIFL’s assistance, that country provisionally can become a partner prior to the establishment of the consortium. This entails a mutual commitment that EIFL will provide all services that are available to regular partner consortia; the fledgling country consortium in turn will demonstrate by the end of the year significant progress to establish an operational consortium.

No. Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to accommodate individual library requirements. If your library is interested in the services of EIFL, please get in touch with your country consortium to discuss membership.

Through the EIFL Licensing programme (EIFL-Licensing), we negotiate with vendors on behalf of partner countries in order to achieve free or highly discounted access, plus fair terms of use. We also work closely with library consortia to promote awareness of available e-resources, and to encourage subscriptions and usage.

For questions, please contact Licensing Programme Manager Romy Beard: romy.beard@eifl.net.

We have negotiated agreements with over 20 vendors for more than 50 commercial e-resources.

Our portfolio of licensed resources covers a comprehensive range of subject areas and types of content  – for example e-journal and e-book collections, and reference and bibliographic databases. Based on content requests and feedback from our partner library consortia, EIFL is continually adding new content.

You can find out whether individual journals are included in collections available through EIFL-negotiated agreements here

EIFL-licensed resources are only available to members of our partner library consortia in eligible countries (i.e. ones covered by agreements for individual resources).

If your institution wishes to take part in an agreement, you should contact the EIFL Licensing Coordinator in your country. They will be able to help you through the process.

However, in general terms, the standard subscription process is as follows. (Please note that it may be slightly different in some cases.)

Eligible institutions need to:

  1. Review the terms of the relevant licence. The licence is for reference only and does not need to be signed.
  2. Sign the licence acceptance form.
  3. Send the signed licence acceptance form either to the EIFL Licensing Coordinator or to the person/address listed on the form.
  4. Arrange payment (if applicable).

Once payment has been received (if applicable), vendors will notify subscribing institutions/EIFL Licensing Coordinators (as appropriate) by email when access has been set up.  

We recommend that institutions save this notification email as it will contain important information about access, how to use the resource, how to change account details (for example IP addresses), and how to generate usage reports

EIFL-negotiated agreements are open to members of our partner library consortia in eligible countries.

The web page for each licensed resource (click here for a list) indicates the list of eligible countries i.e. those that are covered by the agreement.

If your institution is a member of the EIFL partner library consortium in your country and your country is eligible for the resource of your choice, you should be able to subscribe.

Please contact the EIFL Licensing Coordinator in your country for further details.

Please visit the ‘Where we work’ page to locate your country and to access a full list of institutions that are members of the national library consortia. If your institution is not a member and is interested in joining the national library consortia, please contact the EIFL Country Coordinator in your country.

If your institution is a member of the national consortia, and a particular resource is available to your country, please contact the EIFL Licensing Coordinator in your country. They will be able to help you through the subscription process

Pricing is only available to EIFL Licensing Coordinators, however there are some resources that are made free of charge to some countries within our network.

If your institution is eligible to subscribe to a particular resource, please contact the EIFL Licensing Coordinator in your country, and they will be able to advise you about pricing.

Most vendors are pleased to offer 30-day free trials of their resources to institutions that are members of EIFL partner library consortia
If your institution is interested in a free trial, please contact the EIFL Licensing Coordinator in your country

In FAQ menu, please choose 'ADDITIONAL' -> 'EIFL Model Licences FAQ's' to read more.

Access to commercial e-resources can only be granted via a secure route – ie via the IP address/es of a subscribing institution.  

In order to gain access to commercial e-resources, subscribing institutions must provide the static and external/public IP address of their secure network.

Access is not available by username and password as these details can be easily shared, and the resources on offer through EIFL Licensing have a very high commercial value. 

IP addresses are allocated to any device participating in a computer network – both private networks and the public internet.   

IP addresses can either be internal/private or external/public.  An external/public IP address is one that is accessible from the internet.  An internal/private IP address is one that is accessible only from the internal institutional network.

Only external/public IP addresses are suitable for providing institutional access to licensed commercial e-resources because they are the only ones that are accessible from the internet.

IP addresses are either static or dynamic.  A static IP address is one that is fixed and never changes.  Dynamic addresses are assigned every time users log on to the network or internet.

Only static IP addresses are suitable for providing institutional access to licensed commercial e-resources because they don't change.

Find out more about IP addresses

In order to access commercial e-resources, subscribing institutions must provide vendors with their external/public IP address/es as these are used to access the internet.  

The most basic format includes a simple set of 4 blocks of numbers with a minimum of 0.0.0.0 and a maximum of 255.255.255.255 (although neither of these are valid for use for commercial e-resources).

A typical IP address would look like this: 122.140.201.66

IP addresses can also be shown as a range, for example:     122.140.201.66-144 or 122.140.201-205.* (* represents 0-255)

IP addresses can also be shown in CIDR format for example:

122.140.201.0/24 (this represents 122.140.201.*)

For many institutions, the external/public IP address is the address of the proxy server (see Wikipedia entry).

Individual computers which are part of an institutional network may have internal/private IP addresses linking them to the proxy server.  Internal/private IP addresses are not visible on the internet so cannot be used to gain access to commercial e-resources.

The following are examples of internal IP address ranges:

10.0.0.0 – 10.255.255.255 (CIDR = 10.0.0.0/8)

172.16.0.0 – 172.31.255.255 (CIDR = 172.16.0.0/12)

192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255 (CIDR = 192.168.0.0/16)

We recommend that you ask your IT department to provide you with the external/public IP address/es of your institution's network.  

Please note that in order for your institution be able to subscribe to, and access, commercial e-resources, the IP address/es you provide must be external/public, static and only provide access to your institution’s secure network.

Please contact us at subscriptions [at] eifl.net if you have any questions

Through the Copyright and Libraries programme (EIFL-IP), we advocate for a fair copyright system that supports libraries in developing and transition countries in maximizing access to knowledge in the digital environment.

We build the capacity of librarians in our partner consortia on copyright issues and advocacy. We produce unique resources on topical issues, which are translated into  many languages. We also play a leadership role in promoting national and international copyright law reform. Learn more.

We advocate for a fair copyright system that supports libraries in maximizing access to knowledge through national and international copyright law reform. We develop useful resources on copyright issues in multiple languages, and we help to build capacity among librarians in copyright issues through training and mentoring. Learn more

The Copyright and Libraries programme (EIFL-IP) works in EIFL partner countries. Library consortia from developing and transition economy countries can join EIFL and can become EIFL partner countries. We work with library consortia in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America.

See 'Where we work' for more information.

Each EIFL partner consortium has the opportunity to nominate a person from their country as a coordinator for EIFL-IP (as well as for the other EIFL programmes). The coordinator serves as the main point of contact with the EIFL-IP Programme Manager, communicates with the consortium and its members, and reaches out to the local library community on copyright issues. Most coordinators have received training in copyright and advocacy issues for libraries. Many have become recognized leaders in library copyright issues, and have participated in policy-making at national and international levels.

The EIFL-IP coordinators - in over 35 partner countries – are at the heart of the IP programme. They form a strong support network that is managed by EIFL. Learn more.

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property is usually divided into two categories – industrial property that includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications, and copyright that includes literary and artistic works. (Source: What is Intellectual Property? World Intellectual Property Organization).

Libraries are mainly concerned with the area of copyright and related rights.

Copyright grants legal protection to creators of ‘works of the mind’, such as authors and artists. To qualify, the works must be original and ‘fixed’ in some way, for example, written down or recorded. Copyright protection is automatic: no registration is required. Copyright applies to all types of works e.g. books, journals, letters, music, photographs, film, databases, maps, technical drawings, and so on. It applies to works that are published and unpublished in any format. e.g. print, audio-visual, digital, online or offline, DVD, mp3, etc.

Two types of rights are granted: economic rights that can be transferred or assigned to a publisher, an employer or a collecting society for example, and moral rights that are inalienable.

The rights are limited in their scope and effect. They do not apply to ideas and facts, news of the day nor, in some countries, to texts of a legislative, administrative and legal nature. The term of protection is limited, for example, for literary works the standard term is life of the author plus 50 years. The public at large has the right to make quotations from protected works (subject to fair practice). In addition, certain specific uses that differ from country to country may be exempted e.g. preservation by libraries and archives, illustration for teaching purposes.

Rights related to copyright (also known as neighbouring rights) include those for the protection of performing artists, phonogram producers, and broadcasting organizations.

Learn more: Copyright for Librarians

Copyright law is of central importance to libraries. Many library activities and services are affected by copyright, such as the availability and price of books, the right to purchase books from abroad, the right to lend books and other materials. Copyright regulates essential library functions such as preserving cultural heritage, providing access to resources for education and research, and producing information in a format that can be accessed by people with disabilities, for example, people who are blind or visually impaired.

Check WIPO Lex for national laws and treaties of WIPO, WTO and UN Members.

For questions, please contact Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager Teresa Hackett: teresa.hackett@eifl.net.

The EIFL Open Access programme (EIFL-OA) advocates nationally and internationally for the adoption of OA policies and mandates. We help to launch OA repositories and OA journals, and to share research data and open educational resources.

Building capacity is another key focus. We educate researchers, students, research managers, librarians, publishers and policy-makers about the changing scholarly communication landscape.

The Open Access programme (EIFL-OA) works in EIFL partner countries. Library consortia from developing and transition economy countries can join EIFL and can become EIFL partner countries. We work with library consortia in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. See "Where we work" for information about EIFL partner consortium.

The EIFL partner consortia nominate OA Coordinators.  OA Coordinators form the backbone of the network, and are a focal point for national open access initiatives, as well as providing input into international fora. EIFL OA Coordinators identify national open access projects and local partners; provide feedback to the EIFL OA programme manager. The Open Access programme provides training in open access practices, strategies for advocacy and creating partnerships; an opportunity to participate in open access task forces on a regional and international basis; tools and resources to support the advocacy activities. See EIFL OA Coordinators for names and contact details.

For questions, please contact Open Access Programme Manager Iryna Kuchma: iryna.kuchma@eifl.net.

For questions, please contact EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme manage, Ramune Petuchovaite: ramune.petuchovaite@eifl.net

Through the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP), we enable public libraries to develop new services that use digital technology. We do this by giving small grants and by building librarians’ capacity to innovate.

In addition to providing direct support to encourage the creation of new services, we present Innovation Awards to recognize and reward successful public library services that use technology to contribute to community development.

There are more than 230,000 public libraries in developing and transition economy countries. Known and trusted in their communities and staffed by skilled librarians, they are uniquely positioned to change lives and build strong communities.

Information and communication technology (ICT) has vastly increased access to knowledge in vital development areas - agriculture, health, employment, poverty reduction, education and many others. However, public libraries in developing and transition economy countries struggle to integrate ICT into their services. Obstacles include poor telecommunications infrastructure; the high cost of hardware and software, and lack of knowledge about technology and the skills to use it.

EIFL-PLIP seeks solutions to these obstacles by supporting development of innovative public library services that use ICT, and by building librarians technology skills so that they can use ICT effectively and teach members of the community to use ICT. Our aim is to ensure that public libraries have the resources and capacity they need to improve lives in their communities.

EIFL PLIP works in all developing and transition economy countries. Click here to see the list of countries where we work. 

Knowledge and information are essential for development. Public libraries are the main – often the only – places where people can go to find knowledge and information.

Today’s public libraries also provide a wide range of other services that contribute to community development. Through innovative services that use information and communication technology (ICT), public libraries are helping job-seekers find work; health workers to heal their patients, farmers to increase their yields; schoolchildren to pass exams, and more.

With ICT, public libraries are a vital link between communities and sources of information and support from government and civil society organizations.

Public libraries provide space and opportunities for people to meet and share knowledge and experiences.

Innovative public library services started with EIFL-PLIP support in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America are helping people to learn new skills, find jobs, start small businesses, improve their school results, increase agricultural yields, market their products, improve their health, meet other people and connect to new sources of knowledge and information.

Replication means drawing on the vision, experience and practice of other services and creating and implementing a similar service in your community. It does not mean the exact copying of a service.

EIFL-PLIP encourages development of innovative services whose model, approaches or practices can be replicated by other public libraries. We want to test how innovative ideas travel, and find out the best ways in which libraries in different geographic and cultural environments can learn from each other.

EIFL-PLIP announces grant calls, inviting public libraries to apply for grants. We only accept applications in response to our grant calls.

We publicize our grant invitations as widely as possible, using media, our contacts, our website and social networks.

Read more about the EIFL-PLIP grants programme

The EIFL Public Library Innovation Awards recognize and reward libraries in developing and transition economy countries that use technology to offer innovative services to improve lives.

We offer awards for innovative services with different themes and targeting different communities and needs, that were started without funding from EIFL-PLIP.

Read more about the EIFL Public Library Innovation Awards.

Public and community libraries in developing and transition economy countries may enter for an award.

We define a public library as a library that is open to the general public, and which makes all kinds of knowledge and information available. The main source of funding is local/regional/national government.

We define a community library as a library which is primarily supported by community contributions, and which makes all kinds of knowledge and information available to the community

EIFL Model Licences are the licences we use as the starting point for our negotiations with publishers and vendors of licensed e-resources on behalf of library consortia (and their member libraries) in EIFL partner countries.

The EIFL Model Licences reflect the latest international best practice in the licensing of e-resources, and offer much improved access provisions for users than standard commercial licences.

Click the links below to view each EIFL Model Licence.
The terms and conditions governing who can use a resource, and how, are similar in all licences.
Journals (subscriptions and backfile purchase)

Datasets and E-books (subscriptions)

E-books (purchase)

University, public, national, and governmental libraries, and research institutions, which are members of EIFL-partner consortia are included in the definition of "Eligible Organisations" in the EIFL Model Licences

Drafted by Emanuella Giavarra, EIFL's legal adviser and an expert in e-resource licensing, EIFL Model Licences reflect the latest international best practice in the licensing of e-resources.  They incorporate more generous terms and conditions than standard commercial licences, and provide a consistent approach to the access and use of e-resources.

EIFL Model Licences also save our library partners time and money. Why?

  • EIFL Model Licences are drafted as an offer by the publisher to the consortia and/or individual institutions. This means that the publisher does not have to sign the licences. It also means that library consortia and/or individual institutions simply have to complete the one page Acceptance of Licence Form and either fax, email or post it to the publisher.
  • ​Partners can be confident that EIFL Model Licences represent the latest best practice, and also that any modifications which are made during the negotiation of agreements have been approved by EIFL's specialist legal adviser.

EIFL Model Licences are the starting point for our negotiations with publishers. While every effort is made to retain all the clauses, occasionally amendments are made. However, this only occurs after consultation with EIFL's expert legal adviser to ensure the interests of EIFL’s members are protected. Although the terms and conditions of the EIFL Model Licences are invariably achieved, it is the responsibility of each consortium/institution to check the precise wording of the terms and conditions of each licence, and if necessary to seek legal advice, before signing an EIFL-negotiated licence.

The Model Consortium Licence represents the agreement between a consortium and a publisher. It includes the same terms and conditions of access and use of the resource as the Model Institution Licence. To sign up to a licence, a consortium needs to complete the Acceptance of Licence form.  This includes providing a list of consortium members that wish to subscribe and indicating the material they want to subscribe to. The completed form must then be sent to the publisher by email, fax or post.

The Model Institution Licence represents the agreement between an individual institution and a publisher. It includes the same terms and conditions of access and use of the resource as the Model Consortium Licence. To sign up to a licence, institutions need to complete the Acceptance of Licence form and send it to the publisher by email, fax or post

  • ​What the resource can be used for
  • Who is authorised to use the resource, and how it can be accessed
  • What authorised users and institutions can and can't do
  • The responsibilities of the institution/consortium
  • The responsibilities of the publisher
  • Customer support for subscribing institutions and their authorised users
  • The provision of free electronic user documentation (for reproduction and circulation with appropriate acknowledgement)
  • A warranty by the publisher that all intellectual property rights ("IPR") in the resources are either owned by or licensed to the publisher
  • An indemnity by the publisher to protect institutions if they are sued by a third party for IPR infringement for using the resource in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions in the Licence

The licences also include other terms and conditions in accordance with best practice for a licence of this nature such as the duration of the agreement, grounds for termination, acknowledgement of IPR, warranties and indemnities, Force Majeure and governing law.

EIFL is not a party to the Model Licences. However, EIFL signs the Model Contract with each publisher to secure the prices negotiated for a specific resource and the use of the EIFL Model Licences.

The Licences refer to Authorised Users. These fall into two categories based on their relationship with an institution:

These are:

1) An individual who is authorised by the institution to have access to its information services (whether on-site or off-site) via Secure Authentication and who is:

  • a current student of the Institution (including undergraduates and postgraduates) or an alumni of the Institution;
  • a member of staff of the institution (whether permanent or temporary including retired members of staff and any teacher who teaches Authorised Users registered in the country where the Institution is located);
  • a contractor of the institution.

2) Walk-in Users. Any person who is permitted by the institution to access its secure network from computer terminals within the premises of the institution. This person is referred to as a Walk-in User because they can access the resource by "walking in" to the library

The Model Licences allow the institution to provide 24/7 access for multiple users, simultaneously using secure access to all Authorised Users except for Walk-in Users.

Walk-in Users can only use the resource while physically located within the premises of the institution, using computer terminals on the secure network. This is because Walk-in Users are not members of the institution; consequently their conduct cannot be regulated while off the premises, making it impossible for the institution to ensure that the terms and conditions of an EIFL-negotiated licence is met.

The Model Licences allow resources to be used for Educational Purposes only. Authorised users can use parts of the licensed resource for:

  • Their own private study
  • Teaching and training staff and students whether on campus or not    
  • Student course work (including project work and dissertations)
  • Research activities
  • Presenting research professionally eg at conferences or in academic papers

The licensed resource must not be used for any Commercial Use. This means use of the whole or parts of the resource with a view to a commercial gain.

The institution is allowed to make a local cache copy. This is particularly helpful where staff wish to use a resource during a teaching session, and want to guarantee speedy and reliable access by using a local copy of the resource (rather than relying on access via the web). Access to the cached version must still be via a secure network and is subject to the same terms and conditions as any other use.

Staff, students and Walk-in Users can:

  • Search the resource and look at their results on screen;
  • Save portions of the resource electronically, these can be saved to a computer hard drive, floppy disk, CD-ROM, USB flash drive etc;
  • Print out single copies of portions of the resource, for example journal articles, book chapters, search results etc.

Staff can "incorporate" parts of the resource in printed and electronic course packs, in teaching materials (printed and electronic), and use parts of the resource in Virtual Learning Environments providing it is appropriately acknowledged. 

Teachers and lecturers are also allowed to integrate parts of the resource into traditional teaching materials such as reading lists and other handouts. It also means staff and students can ‘cut and paste’ from a range of resources into a single teaching resource or course assignment, as long as appropriate acknowledgment is made for each item (and the Licence for each resource contains the relevant terms and conditions). 

Staff may reproduce extracts in a format that aids accessibility, for example Braille. Any provision of course materials online must be through a secure network. You will need to check the licence agreement because in some cases it is necessary to delete electronic copies of teaching materials at the end of the licence period.

Students can cut and paste parts of the resource in printed or electronic form in projects, assignments, portfolios and in dissertations. Students are also permitted to make a copy of their assignments for their private use and library deposit. Students must include the details of the source, title listing and copyright owner in their coursework, assignments, portfolios, theses, etc.

Staff and students can search and look at their results on screen to support their study and research. They may also:

  • Save extracts electronically to a computer hard drive, floppy disk, CD-ROM etc;
  • Print out single copies of extracts from the resource, for example journal articles, book chapters, search results etc;
  • Publicly display or present as part of their work at seminars, workshops or conferences.
  • Interlibrary loan and electronic document delivery of a single copy provided that the electronic file is deleted after printing;
  • Provide printed and electronic copies of parts of the resource at the request of staff and students;
  • Download extracts from the resource for training and promotion;
  • Make copies of training materials in print or electronic format.
  • Make the resource available off-site to anyone other than staff and students;
  • Remove or hide or change copyright notices or remove acknowledgements;

Note: When cutting and pasting  extracts from the resource, any form of acknowledgment associated with the item must be included (e.g. copyright caption with an image).

  • Allow the resource to be viewed in any way other than on the institutions secure network;
  • Use the resource for Commercial Use or for any purpose other than Educational Purposes;
  • Display any part of the resource on a publicly accessible website or network.

All of these restrictions continue after the end of the licence agreement.

When an institution signs an EIFL negotiated Licence it agrees to:

  • Issue passwords only to staff and students;
  • Make staff and students aware that they cannot share their passwords with anyone else;
  • Only allow Authorised Users access to the resource through a secure network;
  • Make sure that Authorised Users are aware of what they are and aren’t allowed to do with the resource;
  • Let the publisher know immediately if they are aware of unauthorised access or use of the resource. Also to take the appropriate steps to ensure unauthorised access or use is not repeated.

A breach of a Licence is a serious matter and can be grounds for termination of the agreement. This places the rights of other users in jeopardy.

EIFL negotiates access to journals and backfiles after the expiry of an EIFL-negotiated licence.

Perpetual access to the full text will be provided free of charge by the publisher either: a) by continuing online access via the Publisher’s server; or b) by supplying the electronic files to each subscribing Institution in an electronic medium mutually agreed between the parties. Institutions can network the archive within their institution at their own cost. Continuing archival access and use is subject to the terms and conditions of the expired Licence

Sometimes EIFL’s negotiated licence will differ from the EIFL Model Licences. It is important to check each Licence that you sign, especially the permitted uses, restrictions and perpetual access provisions.

This guide should be used for information purposes only. It does not provide legal advice. Always check the relevant section of the licence that your consortium/institution has signed before you provide access or allow use of a resource and in doubt, please seek legal advice

Digital, online and free for users literature doesn’t have the price barriers for the users, but still has permission barriers (e.g. registration, copyright and licensing restrictions, no reuse rights). E.g. you might have free access to research literature via HINARI, AGORA, OARE and other international initiatives because somebody paid on your behalf, or the publisher was generous to provide free access to you, or this was a result of negotiations. If you are asked to register, provide IP address, or sign a license, this is not open access.

By 'open access' to literature, we mean its permanent free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited (open access definition from the Budapest Open Access Initiative).

More information: see Briefing Paper What is Open Access? written by Alma Swan for OASIS [PDF]

To achieve open access to scholarly literature, there are two complementary strategies.

I.  Open access Journals. Journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access (subscription or access fees). Users can read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the journal articles. These journals do no longer invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. Instead they use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access to all the articles they publish. For the journal publishers, open access brings increased readership and, with that, increased citations, and maximum visibility and impact for a journal's contents. And it means that the best possible dissemination service is being provided for research.

II. Open access repositories. Open access repositories (or archives or digital repositories) contain research output, not only refereed journal articles, but also theses and dissertations, unpublished reports and working papers, conference and workshop papers, books, chapters and sections, multi-media and audio-visual material, learning objects, datasets, software, patents, etc. They might be institutional or thematic. When these repositories conform to standards created by the Open Archives Initiative they are interoperable, forming a global research facility. Common metadata protocol allows other web applications, such as data mining. Scholars and students deposit their research outputs in open repositories – a practice commonly called self-archiving.

More information: see Briefing Paper What are Institutional Repositories? written by Alma Swan for OASIS

Completely. The short answer is that copyright law gives the copyright holder the right to make access open or restricted, and we seek to put copyright in the hands of authors or institutions that will consent to make access open. The long answer depends on whether we are talking about open access journals or open access repositories.

Open access journals will either let authors retain copyright or ask authors to transfer copyright to the publisher. In either case, the copyright holder will consent to open access for the published work. When the publisher holds the copyright, it will consent to open access directly. When authors hold the copyright, they will insure open access by signing a license to the publisher authorizing open access. Publishers of open access journals will have such licenses already prepared for authors. For more information see Report on the implementation of open content licenses in developing and transition countries.

Open access repositories. Authors of preprints hold the copyright to them and may post them to open access repositories with no copyright problems whatever. If the preprint is later accepted for publication in a journal that requires authors to transfer copyright to the publisher, then the journal may or may not give permission for the refereed postprint to be posted to an open access archive (SHERPA RoMEO site provides information about publisher copyright policies & self-archiving – use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement). If permission is granted, then again there is no copyright problem. If permission is denied, then the preprint may remain in the open access archive because it is a different work from the postprint and the author never transferred the copyright on the preprint. Moreover, the author may post to the archive a list of corrigenda, or differences between the preprint and postprint. This is not quite as convenient for readers as seeing the whole postprint online, but it provides them with the equivalent of the full text of the postprint and is infinitely more useful than no free access at all.

We do not advocate open access for copyrighted literature against the will of the copyright holder or in violation of copyright law. Nor do we advocate for any changes in copyright law. We seek to maximize access within existing copyright law, in accordance with the wishes of the copyright holders.

(Based on the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Question)

For more information see Author's Rights and Author Addenda in the OASIS  and Copyright and authorsʼ rights: A Briefing Paper [PDF] written by Kevin L. Smith, J.D. & David R. Hansen, J.D., Duke University for OASIS

Completely. We seek open access for peer-reviewed literature. The only exception is for preprints, which are put online prior to peer review but which are intended for peer-reviewed journals at a later stage in their evolution. Peer review is medium-independent, as necessary for online journals as for print journals, and no more difficult. Self-publishing to the internet, which bypasses peer review, is not the kind of open access that we seek or endorse.

(From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions)

Completely. Open access is online access, but it does not exclude print access to the same works. Open access is free of charge to readers, but it does not exclude priced access to print versions of the same works. (Because print editions are expensive to produce, they tend to be priced rather than free.) Open access does not exclude printouts by users or print archives for security and long-term preservation. For some publishers, print will exclude open access, but the reverse need never occur.

(From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions)

Completely. The short answer is that the same factors that create high standards and high quality in traditional scholarly publications can be brought to bear, with the same effects, on open access literature. The long answer depends on whether we are talking about open access journals or open access repositories.

Open access journals. The quality of scholarly journals is a function of the quality of their editors, editorial boards, and referees, which in turn affect the quality of the authors who submit articles to them. Open access journals can have exactly the same quality controls working for them that traditional journals have. The main reason is that the people involved in the editorial process, and the standards they use, do not depend on the medium (print or electronic) or the cost (priced or free) of the publication. This is clearest in the case when the very same people who edit print or limited access journals also edit open access journals, either because their journal appears in two versions or because they resigned from a journal that didn't support open access and created a new open access journal to serve the same scholarly community. Open access journals do not differ from toll access journals in their commitment to peer review or their way of conducting it, but only in their cost-recovery model, which has no bearing on the quality of the articles they publish.

Open access repositories. Scholars self-archive either unrefereed preprints or refereed postprints. Let's take these in order.

(A) By calling preprints "unrefereed" we mean, of course, that they are not yet peer-reviewed. Their quality has not been tested or endorsed by others in the field. But this is because they are unrefereed preprints, not because an open access repository gives open access to them. As long as they are labelled as preprints, there is no misleading of readers and no dilution of the body of refereed or peer-reviewed literature.

(B) Refereed postprints have been peer-reviewed by journals. The standards by which they have been judged and recommended are those of journals in the field, and these standards do not depend on a journal's medium (print or electronic) or cost (priced or free). The quality of the articles endorsed by these standards depends entirely on these standards, not on the fact that an open access repository provides open access to them.

If the real question here is whether those who call for open access are really calling for the abandonment of peer review, or for a kind of self-publication to the internet that bypasses peer review, the answer is no.

(Based on the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions)

The field of High-Energy Physics (HEP) has explored alternative communication strategies for decades, initially via the mass mailing of paper copies of preliminary manuscripts, then via the inception of the first online repositories and digital libraries. In 1991, Paul Ginsparg, then at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, conceived arXiv, an internet-based system to disseminate preprints. arXiv was first based on e-mail and then on the web. Nowadays the research cycle in HEP is approaching maximum efficiency as a result of the early and free availability of articles that scientists in the field can use and build upon rapidly:

Brody has looked at the pattern of citations to articles deposited in arXiv, specifically at the length of the delay between when an article is deposited and when it is cited, and has published the aggregated data for each year from 1991. As more papers are deposited and more scientists use the repository, the time between an article being deposited and being cited has been shrinking dramatically, year upon year. This is important for research uptake and progress, because it means that in this area of research, where articles are made available at – or frequently before – publication, the research cycle is accelerating.

(From: Brody, Tim; Harnad, Stevan; Carr, Leslie. Earlier web usage statistics as predictors of later citation impact. Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), 2005, Vol. 57 no. 8 pp. 1060-1072; and Open Access: What is it and why should we have it? - ECS EPrints ...Open Access: What is it and why should we have it? Swan, A. (2006) Open Access: What is it and why should we have it?).

Anne Gentil-Beccot, Salvatore Mele and Travis Brooks analysed almost two decades of use of preprints and repositories in the HEP community in “Citing and Reading Behaviours in High-Energy Physics. How a Community Stopped Worrying about Journals and Learned to Love Repositories” and provided evidences that

  1. “submission of articles to an open access subject repository, arXiv, yields a citation advantage of a factor five”;
  2. “the citation advantage of articles appearing in a repository is connected to their dissemination prior to publication, 20% of citations of HEP articles over a two-year period occur before publication”; and
  3. “HEP scientists are between four and eight times more likely to download an article in its preprint form from arXiv rather than its final published version on a journal web site”.

No. The author's consent to open access for a given article is manifested by self-archiving the article in an open access repository, by publishing it in an open access journal, or by some explicit statement attached to the article. Open access repositories and journals will help readers by making clear that they offer open access to all their contents, and they will respect authors by offering open access only to the works for which their authors have consented to open access. However, if a copyrighted work is on the internet but not in such an archive or journal, and there is no other indication of the copyright holder's wishes, then users should seek permission for any copying that would exceed fair use.

(From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions)

In the early days, some authors worried that open access would increase the incentive to plagiarize their work.  But this worry made no sense and has not been borne out. On the contrary.  Open access might make plagiarism easier to commit, for people trolling for text to cut and paste.  But for the same reason, open access makes plagiarism more hazardous to commit. Insofar as open access makes plagiarism easier, it's only for plagiarism from open access sources.  But plagiarism from open access sources is the easiest kind to detect.

(From Open access and quality written by Peter Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #102, October 2, 2006.)

In fact, plagiarism is diminished as a problem. It is far easier to detect if the original, date-stamped material is freely accessible to all, rather than being hidden in an obscure journal.

(From the Open Access Frequently Asked Questions, DRIVER — Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research)

It is easier to detect simple plagiarism with electronic than with printed text by using search engines or other services to find identical texts. For more subtle forms of misuse, the difficulties of detection are no greater than with traditional journal articles. Indeed, metadata tagging, including new ways of tracking the provenance of electronic data and text, promise to make it easier.

(From JISC Opening up Access to Research Results: Questions and Answers [PDF])

More information: see JISC Electronic Plagiarism Detection project

Open source software, like free software, is a kind of software whose source code is available for inspection or modification. Some open source software is available for a fee, but much of it is available at no cost. To read more about free and open source software click here.

Open access is a kind of access or availability. This kind of access could apply to any digital content, such as software, music, movies, or news. But we only calls for open access to a certain kind of scientific and scholarly literature. To read more about open access click here.

(From the Budapest Open Access Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions)

The Directory of Open Access Journals provides the author service: go and search or browse by journal title or by subject open access & hybrid journals to find where to publish your research as open access. You can search and browse all the journals, or only the journals that don’t charge publication fee.

You can deposit your research papers in the open access subject (disciplinary) repositories. Browse the list of open access disciplinary repositories in the Open Access Directory (OAD).  Unless otherwise noted, they accept relevant deposits regardless of the author's institutional affiliation. Or search and browse the Directory of Open Access Repositories to find the disciplinary repositories (in the Any Repository Type box choose Disciplinary).

You can also deposit your research output in ZENODO – a new simple and innovative service that enables researchers, scientists, projects and institutions to share and showcase multidisciplinary research results (data and publications) that are not part of existing institutional or subject-based repositories. ZENODO enables researchers, scientists, projects and institutions to:

  • easily share the long tail of small research results in a wide variety of formats including text, spreadsheets, audio, video, and images across all fields of science;
  • display and curate their research results and get credited by making the research results citable and integrate them into existing reporting lines to funding agencies like the European Commission;
  • easily access and reuse shared research results.

ZENODO assigns all publicly available uploads a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to make upload easily and uniquely citeable.

ZENODO has been set up by CERN within OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) project.  

And you can deposit papers into the OpenDepot.org an assured gateway to make research open access. It provides two main services: a deposit service for researchers worldwide without an institutional repository in which to deposit their papers, articles, and book chapters (e-prints); and a re-direct service which alerts depositors to more appropriate local services if they exist. The first time a researcher visits the OpenDepot.org, the repository will automatically check with OpenDOAR, the registry for open access repositories, to find a more appropriate local repository. If none exists then the author will be invited to deposit their research in the OpenDepot.org. The OpenDepot.org is OAI-compliant allowing deposited e-prints to be 'harvested' by search services, and other repositories, giving them instant global visibility.

For researchers, open access brings increased visibility, usage and impact for their work. A number of studies have now been carried out on the effect of open access on citations to articles, showing the increased citation impact that open access can bring. Open access repositories also provide an excellent means for researchers to boost their online presence and raise their profile.

Please see the Benefits of open access for research dissemination in the OASIS or EIFL-OA resources.

Research institutions benefit from open access in the following ways: increased visibility and presence on the Web; increased impact for research; the open access collection in the repository forms a complete record of the research output of the institution in easily accessible form, provides the means for the institution to manage its research programmes more effectively and to measure and assess its research programmes. Open repositories publicise an institute’s research strengths, providing maximum return on research investment. Institutions can mandate open repositories, speeding development.

Open repositories increase impact and usage of institute's research, providing new contacts and research partnerships for authors. Free and open source software is used to set up the repositories and institutions benefit from free technical support for installation and use. There are low installation and maintenance costs, repositories are quick to set up and gain benefits. And repositories provide usage statistics showing global interest and value of institutional research.

A JISC report authored by Alma Swan called “Modelling scholarly communication options: costs and benefits for universities” shows that a single large university could contribute around £3 million each year to the research community as a whole simply by sharing knowledge through a more open route. The study applied open access models to a representative group of universities, and reviewed the costs and benefits of each scenario. In terms of modelling, the work does two things: it identifies the costs and benefits of different scholarly communication scenarios; and it quantifies them, that is, it attaches actual values to cost elements in the processes involved and measures what economic outcomes emerge from modelling various scenarios. The outcomes of this modelling vary (eg by university) but, in all cases, open access options have the potential to save universities money.

Open repository can be a useful tool in day-to-day research management activities. Once research outputs are stored in the repository departmental research managers can use them as the definitive source of information for promotion panels and appraisals. It is part of a network, both formal and informal. Repositories could be linked to the institutional research management system (IRMS):  e.g. data from the finance office for research income, information on staffing from the human resources database and details of postgraduate numbers from the student records system. Using open access institutional repository in this way can lead to resource efficiencies across the institution. Without this arrangement the information about research outputs may otherwise need to be gathered from several individual departments or research groups.

(See the Briefing Paper written by Wendy White, University of Southampton Library, and edited by Alma Swan for OASIS [PDF]

For more information see: Institutional Advantages from Open Access in the OASIS; a Briefing Paper: What are Institutional Repositories? written by Alma Swan for OASIS [PDF]; and the Briefing Paper Institutional Repositories: Business Issues for Institutional Managers written by Alma Swan for OASIS [PDF].

Submit your research articles to open access journals, when there are appropriate open access journals in your field.

Deposit your preprints in an open access, OAI-compliant repository. It could be a disciplinary or institutional repository. If you have questions about archiving your eprints, then see Stevan Harnad’s Self-Archiving FAQ.

Deposit your postprints in an open access repository. The “postprint” is the version accepted by the peer-review process of a journal, often after some revision. If you transferred copyright to your publisher, then postprint archiving requires the journal’s permission. However, many journals have already consented in advance to postprint archiving by authors. Some will consent when asked. Some will not consent. For publisher policies about copyright and author archiving, see the searchable database maintained by Project SHERPA.  If you have not yet transferred copyright to a publisher, then ask to retain copyright. If the journal does not let you retain copyright, then ask at least for the right of postprint archiving. If it does not let you retain the right to archive your postprint, then ask for permission to put the postprint on your personal web site. The chief benefit of postprint archiving is reaching a much larger audience than you could reach with any priced publication (in print or online). Reaching a larger audience increases your impact, including your citation count. Many studies confirm that OA articles are cited significantly more often (on the order of 50-300% more often) than non-OA articles from the same journal and year.

Deposit your data files in an open access repository along with the articles built on them. Whenever possible, link to the data files from the articles, and vice versa, so that readers of one know where to find the other.

When asked to referee a paper or serve on the editorial board for an open access journal, accept the invitation.

If you are an editor of a toll-access journal, then start an in-house discussion about converting to open access, experimenting with open access, letting authors retain copyright, abolishing the Ingelfinger rule, or declaring independence (quitting and launching an OA journal to serve the same research niche).

Volunteer to serve on your university’s committee to evaluate faculty for promotion and tenure. Make sure the committee is using criteria that, at the very least, do not penalize faculty for publishing in peer-reviewed open access journals. At best, adjust the criteria to give faculty an incentive to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research articles and preprints, either through open access journals or open access archives.

Work with your professional societies to make sure they understand open access. Persuade the organization to make its own journals open access, endorse open access for other journals in the field, and support open access self-archiving by all scholars in the field.

Write opinion pieces (articles, journal editorials, newspapers op-eds, letters to the editor, discussion forum postings) advancing the cause of open access.

Educate the next generation of scientists and scholars about open access.

(From What you can do to promote open access written by Peter Suber)

  • Launch an open access, OAI-compliant institutional repository, for both texts and data.
  • Help faculty deposit their research articles in the institutional archive.
  • Help to publish open access journals and create open educational resources.
  • Help in data curation and sharing.
  • Spread a word about open access.
  • Undertake digitisation, access, and preservation projects not only for faculty, but for local groups, e.g. non-profits, community organizations, museums, galleries. Show the benefits of open access to the non-academic community surrounding the university, especially the non-profit community.

(Based on What you can do to promote open access written by Peter Suber).

Every research funding agency should have an open access policy, many already do, and most are probably thinking about it. Please see some guides to the major decisions which come up in framing a new policy, reviewing an older one, or thinking about policies elsewhere:

In the open access repository policy you define an overall vision for your institutional repository, a collection policy, a submission policy, the content types that you will be including in your institutional repository, a deposit licence and policy and a re-use licence for your institutional repository, take-down policies and embargoes, a preservation policy, and rights, responsibilities and repository services, etc.

When you have a publicly stated open access repository policy for the permitted re-use of deposited items or for such things as submission of items, long-term preservation, etc, it simplifies matters for organisations wishing to provide search services, which in turn increases the visibility and impact of the repositories.

Institutional open access policy may be voluntary (i.e. it requests that researchers make their work open access in the institutional repository) or mandatory (i.e. it requires that researchers make their work open access in the institutional repository). The evidence [PDF] shows that only mandatory policies produce the level of self-archiving from researchers that fill repositories. So, although voluntary policies were initially popular, new institutional policies are now usually mandatory. Mandatory policies, on the other hand, do bring the high level of self-archiving that provides a university with the increased visibility and impact that open access promises.

The first university-wide mandatory policy was implemented by Professor Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, in 2004. Since then, growing numbers of universities and research funders have followed suit. A list of policies developed by universities, research institutes and research funding agencies is maintained at the University of Southampton. As this is a self-registering service, supplemented by the list owners adding policies that they have discovered serendipitously, this list under-represents the actual number of policies in existence.

Mandatory policies should be coupled with a clear case explaining why the university wishes to collect its research outputs in one place – for internal record-keeping, for research assessment, as a central locus for access to the outputs of any individual, group or department, and so on.  In this way, a mandate becomes a non-controversial part of institutional operations.

(from Institutional Policies section in the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook)

Please read about the main issues to take into account in developing an institutional open access policy here. You can also read