Category Archives: question and answer

question and answer

EndNote, Bibliographies, OpenURLs and COinS

Another challenging question from a fellow librarian in the Max Planck Society:

How can I add OpenURL links to a reference list created with EndNote?

That is a tough one! Fact is that EndNote itself is OpenURL enabled, meaning the software can be configured to use a specific link resolver for full text linking and more (see the instructions provided by the IVS-BM for details). But it looks like this feature is not available while generating a bibliography with EndNote. Or at least, I haven’t discovered a trick to export references plus OpenURLs with any built-in means.

However, it is possible to customize existing Output Styles, e.g. by adding a COinS to each entry of a reference list created with this style. I tried it, but found the result sub-optimal (see examples below). The major problem is that EndNote’s Output Style Manager does not support URL-encoding of values and that would be required to generate valid COinS. The OpenURL Referrer extension seems to be gentle enough to accept them nevertheless, but Zotero rejects the import. What a bummer!


Example Bibliography (with COinS*)

Adam, G., Anke, H., Boland, W., & al., e. (2000). Roempp encyclopedia natural products. Stuttgart: Thieme.  

Adam, G., Schmidt, J., & Schneider, B. (1999). Brassinosteroids. Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products, 78, 1-46.  

Adam, G., & Schneider, B. (1999). Uptake, transport and metabolism. In A. Sakurai, T. Yokota & S. D. Clouse (Eds.), Brassinosteroids: Steroidal Plant Hormones (pp. 113-136). Tokyo: Springer.  

* You don’t see a COinS? Check the corresponding web page for additional information.

Bringing MPG/SFX buttons to your reference list?

Two questions from my mail inbox today:

Can I add MPG/SFX buttons to my individual reference list? And if yes: Does this make any sense?

The answer to the first question is straight forward: Yes, you can link every reference to the corresponding MPG/SFX service menu. This requires you to create OpenURL links including all relevant bibliographic information and to add these links to the HTML code of your reference list. Our OpenURL generator (in German) may help you with this task.

But there is no definitive answer to the second question. Obviously, a link to the MPG/SFX resolver is especially helpful to staff of the Max Planck Society because the menu will offer relevant services for this specific target group. But users outside the MPG IP ranges are not assisted in such a comfortable way. The only help provided is a link to OCLC’s OpenURL Resolver Registry which can be used to redirect the request to a local resolver.

If you want to share your reference list with the public, you may consider adding COinS alternatively. COinS (“ContextObjects in Spans”) provide a measure to embed bibliographic information into the HTML code of a web page. Afterwards, the information can been used by your browser to display links to an OpenURL link resolver (such as MPG/SFX) or to download the record into a reference manager.

Further reading:

vLib, exporting records with IE 7.0

might give you a hard time. In fact, it looks as if many problems of this type have been reported to the provider of the digital library software the vLib portal is based on.

Internet Explorer 7.0, by default, does not automatically prompt users for download of file resources without their consent.

Unfortunately, vLib tends to send the download request "en passant", and is unable to repeat it (or present a page that contains a link to the file resource) after users have confirmed the download.

A massive but efficient response is turning on automatic download prompt – see

Still, some versions of IE 7.0 may claim to be unable to find a file resource on the server – which is not true, as apache logfiles clearly indicate that the resource has been delivered. However, IE 7.0 is likely to be unable to cache it properly, and hence does not "find" it.

No apache settings that influence caching were apt to solve the problem. An update of IE 7.0 is probably a good idea in this case. Comments welcome.

A fix has been announced for the next minor release of the MetaLib software, so that file resources may be downloaded, even though a download has been tackled by IE 7.0’s security mechanisms.

Why not participating in Google Scholar’s library link program?

Google Scholar offers a preference called library links which enables users to access licensed resources through their institutional link resolver. This works with any SFX server, but we haven’t registered the MPG link resolver and therefore you won’t find the Max Planck Society (MPG) being listed:

Screenshot Google Scholar preferences

So, let’s ask the obvious question: Why?

The first and major obstacle is that the institution needs to provide complete electronic holdings information in the course of registration. This information is used by Google to position the SFX link in order to indicate when electronic full text is available for a particular reference.

On the other hand, the MPG has no central knowledge base including all electronic full texts available to a specific employee in his local context. The SFX link resolver mashes up holding information from various resources on request, i.e. after a user clicked on a MPG/SFX button. An example is the lookup in the Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek to check for content additionally licensed for the particular institute (see documentation, in German). In short: We are not able to deliver the requested holdings information under these circumstances.

But would we register it if we could? At least this would bring the discussion back to the table, but there are some further concerns:

  1. Replicating institutional holding information contradicts one of the basic principles of the OpenURL concept: Generating context sensitive links on request.
  2. Google’s policy of emphasizing electronic holdings discriminates other library services, e.g. print holdings and document delivery services.
  3. The scope of the Google Scholar index is undefined and the interface offers basic retrieval options only. Therefore, we recommend using high-quality resources for information retrieval, e.g. the Web of Science.

Honestly spoken: I’m not too sure that any of the above arguments would prevent us from registering the MPG/SFX server at Google Scholar if our users would ask for it. The truth is: we haven’t received a single request until now. You want to be the first? Submit a comment or post us a note.

Missing MPG/SFX in PubMed?

NCBI PubMed is a resource free available to everybody without any subscription or registration. Therefore, we cannot specify MPG/SFX as the default link resolver for all users from the MPG – as we do so for resources on subscription base. Anyway, entering the database via a special URL allows you to access MPG/SFX services directly from PubMed’s record pages:

If you don’t want to remember the above URL all th time, you may choose one of the following entry points which set the parameter automatically:

A note for MPG librarians: If you are providing a link to PubMed from your library’s homepage, you may want to update this as well