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Open Access Resources at the UC Libraries

Policies and Procedures for Shared Cataloging, Linking, and Management


Open access¹ resources have no financial or legal barriers to access for members of our user community. The following factors must be in evidence:

  1. The publication must be available online at no charge to readers or institutions. No subscription can be required for online access. It is acceptable for the Issuing body to require registration as long as no cost is involved.
  2. Readers must be permitted to use the material for any lawful purpose, including downloading, copying, making derivative works, distributing, printing, searching, or linking to the full texts of works, crawling for indexing, or passing as data to software.
  3. No licensor/licensee relationship shall exist between the publisher or provider of the online publication and the individual user or institution.
  4. The publication must not be a free trial, complimentary access with subscription, part of an open access pilot project, or an “opt-in” title.
  5. The publication must not be part of a mass digitization project (e.g., Google books, Open Content Alliance, etc.).

Note that some open access resources may provide open access to only portions of their content [e.g., just the backfiles (e.g., PubMed Central website, HighWire and Wiley-Blackwell Open Access Backfiles titles), just the front files, or only some types of articles (some PubMed Central titles)]. In these cases, coverage in the 856 field will indicate what content is available as open access. For example, “Open access to research articles only” will appear in BioMed Central records.


  • The Joint Steering Committee on Shared Resources (JSC) oversees UC policies for shared cataloging of open access materials.
  • Scholarly open access resources (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, databases, monographic collections, etc.) are eligible for consideration.
  • Only UC bibliographers and selectors (or catalogers finding additional access) are the nominators of resources for consideration.
  • A brief justification must be submitted for each individual collection (a database or a collection consisting of ten or more titles) according to the evaluation criteria below. Resources requested may be subject to additional technical review by staff of the Shared Catalog Program (SCP) at UC San Diego before submitting to JSC for approval.
  • Once approved by JSC, SCP will catalog resources and include these records in the existing SCP data streams sent to campuses. A record will appear in Melvyl after a campus incorporates that record into their local catalog.
  • SCP cataloging priorities are outlined more fully on the SCP website. Cataloging at individual title level of an OA collection may be considered a lower priority.

Evaluation Criteria

Making resources available to the UC community entails considerable cost, whether the resources are licensed or open access. Open access resources should be evaluated according to the same quality use indicators that would be applied to licensed content. Examples of factors to consider include:

  • Does the resource satisfy a demonstrable need in ongoing research and/or teaching at UC?
  • Is it produced or supported by a recognizable and reputable organization? Is it likely to persist?
  • Is the URL stable and reliable (i.e. free of performance or other problems)?
  • Is the interface easy-to-use?
  • Does the resource require specialized technology (non-standard browser plug-in, special font support, use of a specialized application, etc)? If so, additional vetting may be required before the resource is approved.

Procedures for OA Journals, Databases, Monograph Collections or Other non-Journal Contents

Phase Open Access Individual Journals Open Access Databases or Collections consisting of ten or more monographs or serials Open Access Individual Monographs
Nomination UC bibliographers are entitled to fill out the individual OA journal title request form. This form is routed to the Shared Cataloging Program (Becky Culbertson).

Such requests will be considered on a project basis subject to SCP workflow and available cataloging expertise.

UC bibliographers are entitled to fill out the new collection request form. After consideration and input by SCP, JSC will evaluate all requests.

Such requests will be considered on a project basis subject to SCP workflow and available cataloging expertise.

Please submit a request to your local campus for the cataloging of individual monographs.
Verification of open access status UC bibliographers should only submit resources that meet the criteria above. For journals that are automatically approved, the JSC is responsible for verifying the open access status of that resource if that status is challenged. N/A N/A
Approvals The following types of journals are automatically approved and will be routed for cataloging without any approvals process:

  • Journals indexed in a major disciplinary abstracting and indexing database; or
  • Journals that have an existing SCP record (i.e., this is a new open-access URL with new access, equivalent access, or less content); or
  • Journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
JSC will approve nominated resources as part of their regular operations, based on the SCP’s cataloging recommendations and input from UC CKG members. When a nominated resource is approved, JSC will inform SCP and UC-eLinks staff so they can begin cataloging and linking, respectively. N/A
Cataloging levels
  • Non-journals such as databases will be cataloged at the database level only unless requested otherwise. Requests for the individual title level cataloging within a database will be considered on a project basis following SCP Cataloging Priorities.
  • Monographic collections will be cataloged at the individual title level when requested if records are readily available and if they contain at least one valid open access link for all campuses. (More…)
  • A local title field (MARC tag 793 will be assigned to each title with the following wording:
    • 793 0 Open access resource; selected by the UC libraries” If title is in a collection or package, a subtitle will follow the above title (e.g. Open access resource; selected by the UC Libraries. $p DOAJ online journals)
    • When only portions of the resource are open access, the appropriate wording will be added to the 856 $z. Addition of such wording will be added reactively, i.e., when SCP is advised or discovers that portions of the resource are not open access, see Standardized 856 $z wording for online journals.
  • To the extent possible, title-level linking will be done via BibPurls (non-commercial journals) or UC-eLinks (OA journals available through commercial publishers), see the Linking Guidelines.
  • For non-journals, any persistent URL such as a DOI or ARK is preferred before using a BibPURL or PID.
  • Open access resources will not be added to the existing CDL MIS database, but may be included in a future ERM system.
  • The CDL will attempt to troubleshoot access issues when reported.
  • Some larger groups of open access resources (e.g., BioMedCentral) may require a resource liaison.
  • Journals that are dropped by the publisher will be removed from the catalog.

¹Definition compiled by Dave Fisher, UC San Diego. Sources include: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing; Budapest Open Access Initiative; SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue 64, August 4, 2003; DOAJ web site; Creative Commons Attribution — Non-Commercial — shareAlike License 1.0.

Originally prepared, June 9, 2006

Revised by SCP, November 15, 2018

Approved by SCP-AC, November 26, 2018

Approved by JSC, January 14, 2019