EZProxy testing : first impressions, ‘less is more’

We are currently are trialling EZProxy and here is an update of where we are with it. At the moment, our CICT colleagues have set it up locally on the network for us, and have got it working through our firewall. I am hoping that it might give us a complementary route to access off-campus resources alongside Athens, IP and username and password. For starters, I have put this list up to see what routing some of them through our EZProxy server might mean. 

After you log on to the server it returns a list – which we can configure by amending a text file. On this initial list are about 16 of our e-resources that we either currently not access off-campus (because the publisher doesn’t support Athens or Shib), or are currently hard to access because the student has to plough through either Athens cookie-setting screens or publisher screens (often a publisher will have many routes to off-access because they have many different types of clients, so these are to be expected) or a heady mixture of both.

Using Jing I recorded two videos from off-campus 1) accessing British Journal of Music Education  from Swetswise via Cambridge University Press as we currently do and 2) accessing British Journal of Music Education via Swetswise going directly through EZProxy. (Apologies – these are very rough cuts but you get the idea – one route asks for money even after the student logs in via Athens, the other doesn’t. The same publisher, the same journal, sometimes the same article). The point is not why this happens, but as Dave Pattern’s series of slides at #uksglive pointed up, why barriers like these still happen in academic publishing and continue drive students away to Google.

To be fair, subscription agents’ websites are not always the best places to start – but that’s matter for another blogpost. And at the moment  we are only trying to show ‘proof of concept’ for EZProxy, so yes first impressions are bound to be good. The next stage is see whether it is feasible to get this new route working in Summon and also through our institutional portal iCity ( with the help of our CICT colleagues) – which is where we factor in more control over who can access this stuff.

But anything that can cut down the number of login screens, over which we don’t have much control, is good. Anything that can mean the student only has to log in once is good. Anything that mean the student doesn’t have to click via a special route to install a cookie is good. Anything that means the student doesn’t have to work out which password to use is good.

Nothing is more annoying than a series of screens one after the other. As Miles said about music (he was really talking about login screens) – ‘less is more’. Play less, design less. Which sounds like an perfect excuse to play some jazz : So What ?

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