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NISO Launches New Project to Develop Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins

Interested participants from libraries, publishers, content providers are encouraged to contact NISO regarding working group formation
Baltimore, MD - February 17, 2016 - Members of the National Standards Organization (NISO) have approved a new project: the development of a Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins in a Networked Information Environment. As libraries strive to improve the ways in which users access their collections, gaining a definitive understanding of where a user began his or her library search before ultimately arriving at library-licensed content is an important factor for library staff in determining the value of a platform and how to allocate resources. Additionally, publishers may turn to web log analysis to track where users are coming from. In many access scenarios, the use of link resolvers-a crucial technology tool-may unintentionally obscure the original citation source. This new NISO initiative will create effective and scalable options to allow content hosts and individual libraries to determine original sources of links, and provide information on how to obtain and process more accurate statistics for this data.

"The project will address a disconnect between academic institutions' mission to provide their students and faculty with convenient, secure, and private access to high-quality licensed resources and libraries' and vendors' needs to collect metadata about how those resources are being used," states Scott Bernier, Senior Vice President at EBSCO Information Services and one of the project proposers. "While statistics are generally available that depict the level of usage of content, this initiative will help provide a means for assessing how that usage occurs. By having an accurate, consistent view of the origin of each request for a piece of content, libraries will have more information on which to base decisions, and content providers will gain a greater sense of the resources that create visibility and usage of their content. These points of data will undoubtedly have an impact on the collective goals to enhance the value of library services overall."

"Publishers, which supply metadata to various discovery and abstracting and indexing vendors in hopes of increasing discoverability and use of the content they create, will often use web log analysis to track where their users are coming from," adds Oliver Pesch, Chief Product Strategist at EBSCO Information Services and a project proposer. "However, where publishers use HTTP referrer analysis on incoming links to determine sites where users start their research, links sent from link resolvers will represent the domain of the link resolver and not the platform where the user originated the search. We hope that by focusing on the full pathway of the request from user to destination, including options for making use of DOI handle servers, this initiative will provide more accurate statistics describing the heterogeneous information environment that many patrons enjoy from their libraries."

Participation in the NISO initiative is encouraged from libraries, publishers, discovery providers, providers of abstracting and indexing databases, content aggregators, link resolver vendors, and associated technology providers, such as administrators of DOI handle servers. Committee members should be drawn from the communities that will benefit from these new features and who have the skill set to produce a specification that is effective in using current approaches to web services. The full work item approved by NISO Voting Members is available on the NISO web site. Individuals interested in participating in this working group should contact Nettie Lagace, NISO Associate Director for Programs (

About NISO
NISO, based in Baltimore, Maryland, fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of information standards. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For more information, visit the NISO website.