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What are OpenAthens links?

OpenAthens links are a marvellous thing. They allow you to link to a page via an authenticated route without the headache or hassle of long and complicated "Wayfless URLs". All you have to do is pop the target page (or DOI link) for a specific article at the end of a prefix that is specific to your organisation, and something called the OpenAthens redirector sorts it all out. Here's an example:

https://go.openathens.net/redirector/athensdemo.net?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2F

That link is made up of two parts:

  1. The prefix part [ https://go.openathens.net/redirector/athensdemo.net?url= ] 
  2. and the target part [ http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2F ]

(All those %this and %that bits in the target are called percent encoding and are used on characters like / and : when they appear in URLs to make sure that the page that is reading them doesn't get confused.)

What happens when you follow the link?

What happens is...

  1. The redirector reads the organisation from the link [ athensdemo.net ]
  2. The redirector checkes if the user's location is covered by an IP address it has been told to treat as on-site / within network for that organisation
    1. If YES, then it simply forwards the user on to the target [  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ ]. End.
    2. If NO, then...
  3. The redirector looks up the access URL format to use for the resource that target is part of
  4. The redirector plugs in the relevant details to that access URL to bypass any 'where are you from' questions and sends the user to the target [ http://bbc.co.uk/news/ ]. End.

How to use the link generator

Since the links are specific to your organisation, and we don't know what that is yet, the first thing you need to do is tell the page where you are from. There's a search box that will find any OpenAthens organisation. If you don't find yours then it may be known by another name - for examples you may have entered GCC but our system only knowns it as Greendale Community College.

Once you've told the page which organisation to use, you can pop in the target link or links. You can just paste one or more in, as many as you need to - just make sure each one starts with http:// or https:// and is separated by a space, or is on a new line:

OK:

https://www.openathens.org https://www.friendface.org https://mytube.net 
https://www.openathens.org
https://www.friendface.org
https://mytube.net 


Not OK:

www.openathens.org

(no http:// or https://)

https://www.openathens.org, https://www.friendface.org, https://mytube.net 

(comma separated list)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...

(not even web address)

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