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Hope Library Guides

Open Educational Resources: Online Articles

Tips on Using Online Articles

Copyright fees can make course-packs very expensive! Your library may already be paying for electronic subscriptions to the journals (sometimes a hefty institutional price!)

It's fair use to link students to electronic articles in the library's collection. Here are some tips for doing so successfully:

1.) Link to articles
Linking to articles is always fair use. Uploading or distributing copies is fair use some of the time. 

2.) Choose a link to JSTOR or to the publisher when possible.
Van Wylen Library owns some electronic journals; and has only access to others. When we own the article, it will not disappear. The articles in aggregator databases, such as ProQuest or EBSCOhost, fall in the access category; articles from the journal publishers can fall in the own or the access category. It doesn't happen frequently, but access only articles can disappear from databases. The most stable option is to link to owned content like JSTOR or directly through a publisher, such as Wiley or Sage.

3.) Use a stable link that includes the proxy prefix which triggers a login
When using subscription resources, the web address you see at the top of your browser won't always work again for another user. See Linking to Electronic Resources for tips on how to create stable links.

4.) Provide full citation info
If the link doesn't work, the student may be able to find the article if they have full citation info. (And, library staff have something to work with to help them.)

5.) Check your links before the semester starts
Check to be sure links are working. It's easier if links can be fixed, before students panic. A good practice may be to check the links from home to check for off-campus access.

What is a stable link?

Stable links for library resources are links that can be reused, for example to link to an online article as a course reading.

In many library online resources, the URL (address) that displays in the navigation bar of your web browser is not a stable URL.  There are two potential problems:

  • The URL might be dynamic rather than persistent.  Dynamic URLs include session information that will expire and can't be reused.
  • The URL might not include your library's proxy prefix. The proxy prefix gives off-campus users an opportunity to login and allows the publisher to recognize authorized users.

You may be able to create a stable link using the article DOI or you may be able to find a stable link in database records for the article (see below).

When to use a DOI to Link

A DOI - digital object identifier - is a standard method of referring to online publications, often articles.  DOIs are persistent references that will always point to a particular resource, even if the publisher's web address has changed.

A DOI link to a journal article will work for your students when your library has a direct electronic subscription to the journal. 

When the library only has access to the article via a database, such as JSTOR, ProQuest, or EBSCO, the DOI won't lead to an article students can access for free. In those cases, check for a link in the article record that is labeled as a permalink or stable link. If you can't find an obvious stable link in the record, check with your librarian on the best way to link the article.

Consider Using Articles from E-Encyclopedias

Your library may provide scholarly reference works in electronic form.

Articles from these may provide excellent overviews of topics for students.

If you are making print or digital copies ...

Be sure to refer to copyright and fair use guidelines when distributing print copies of articles or making digital copies of articles. Your librarians may be able to provide sources of advice on copyright and fair use.