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If you have registered for a free trial via, this page will take you through the main parts of the system so that you can get a good flavour of what it can do. The walk-through will not cover every feature or discuss every nuance but will include links to the rest of the documentation for further reading where appropriate.

Registration process:

  1. Register for a trial at
  2. OpenAthens personnel will process the registration. They may need to check some things with you by email before proceeding.
  3. Two emails will be sent to you when the trial begins. One with some introductory information and a link to set a password for your administrator access, and another to set a password on an end-user account.

The trial starts when you are sent the emails. Once you have set a password on both accounts you will be able to follow the rest of this page.

Access a resource as an end-user

The first thing to experience is how an end-user will access restricted content using the end-user account you activated. There are two main ways this would happen:

  1. The end-user goes to the 'resource' and finds the institutional login. The resource will find out where to send them and then transfer them to your OpenAthens sign-in. After signing in the user is sent back to the resource and can access the content.
    1. You can try this at - the name to search for is 'OpenAthens Trials'.
    2. This resource has a logout button. To best experience this walk-through, please use it to log out of the resource before you continue.
  2. The end-user follows a link you have provided them, perhaps in a portal, that takes them to the resource and tells the resource where the user is from at the same time. This is known as a 'wayfless' URL.
    1. See this with
    2. In this case, because you were still signed in to OpenAthens you were not asked again for your username and password.

If you sign out of both the resource and OpenAthens and try the wayfless URL again you will need to enter your username and password again.

Useful shortcuts: these can be dragged to your browser's shortcut bar and will be very useful whilst you are testing the difference between visiting a resource when you are already signed in to OpenAthens and when you are not:

Access the administration interface

Sign in at with the organisation account you activated. Following the walk-through is encouraged but feel free to have a poke around and push any buttons you want to.

The dashboard

The first thing you see when you sign in is the dashboard. This page gives you many key data points about your organisation's activity and quick access to some common functions.

On the right hand side you will see information such as how many accounts have been created or deleted, and a list of things you have done with your administrator account. Click the numbers for more detail.

The left has buttons to quickly access things like the account add and list functions, and will also display the most popular resources of the week.

Across the top of the page you will find the search functions and the five menus. To the right of those you have some more buttons - hover your mouse over them to see a tool-tip saying what they do.

  • Find the context sensitive help button and see what it does
  • Explore the menus
Further reading:

List and edit end-user accounts

You can see your accounts by clicking on the big accounts button on the dashboard, or from the accounts menu > list. When you have a large number of accounts you can use search to narrow them down (click on advanced next to the search box for more options).

When you list accounts you can see several basic details about them. The columns button will let you change what you see, and clicking on any username will bring up that account's details.

The account details are split over tabs to keep them need and organised.

  • Change the displayed columns.
  • Click on a username and look at the details.
  • Change an account's expiry date.
  • Reset a password via the actions button. 
Further reading


Statistics and auditing

Statistics tell you which resources have been accessed. Auditing tells you more about what has been done to an account. Both are accessed via the statistics menu.

  • Check out each menu item
  • Generate a report for all usernames at this level for the last week.
  • Download the report as a CSV file or PDF
Further reading

Create an end-user account

There are ways to create hundreds or thousands of accounts by bulk upload, but to create just one account you click the add account button on the dashboard, or go to the account menu > add > personal account.

This launches a simple wizard.

  • Create an account
  • Access the test resource with this account and look for differences in the displayed attributes
Further reading

Set your preferences

There are many preferences you can set via the preferences menu ranging from whether or not accounts can log in using an email address as well as their username, setting up daily or weekly notifications of the metrics that interest you, and even setting up an address to forward users to when they activate their accounts.

  • Explore the preferences
  • Set the default expiry date at 12 months
  • Set the option to delete expired accounts at 30 days
  • Edit the activation email template
  • Activate restrictive mode and read the warning message
Further reading

Permission sets

Permission sets are an important part of OpenAthens. They can let you control which of your resources are available to which of your users. They can also be used to tell a resource a user's role when the resource needs to know that e.g. when teaching staff and students get to see different parts of a site as they might if you are using OpenAthens with a VLE.

Permission sets are created and managed under the resources menu.

Permission sets can be assigned to individual accounts on the permissions tab of an account's details, or to many accounts using the actions button on selected search results.

  • List accounts, tick the boxes next to some of them and then select the allocate permission set function from the actions button
  • View permission sets via the resources menu > permission sets.
  • Add a new permission set

When permission sets are combined with restrictive mode you can have complete control over which users can access which resources if you need it.

  • Set up two permission sets. One that includes the 'OpenAthens demonstration resource' resource and one that does not.
  • If you are following the walk-through you should have at least two accounts you can access the test resource with. Set one to only have the permission set without the test resource and the other to have the permission set that does have it as well as any other permission sets.
  • Engage restrictive mode if you have not already done so (preferences menu > organisation). This will take up to 10 minutes to become live
  • See what happens when you try to access the test resource with each account
  • Turn off restrictive mode

Remember to log out of both the resource and OpenAthens between trying with different accounts - it may be easier to close your browser between attempts or use private browsing mode.

Further reading

The resource catalogue

The button in the permission set details is not the only way to allocate resources to a set. You can also do so from the resource catalogue which, like permission sets, is accessed through the resources menu.

The catalogue contains all the resources that are available, however it does not know which, if any, you have subscriptions to and will be able to access. For your trial you have access to at least the 'OpenAthens demonstration resource' resource.

  • Access the catalogue
  • Use the search box to find 'ScienceDirect' and 'Wiley Online Library'.
  • Use the allocate button to experiment with adding resources to a permission set.
Further reading

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