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OpenURL is a container format for describing requests for access to a publication. As such, it contains metadata about publications, however to describe access requests, it contains data for:

  • the resource that contains a link to the publication (e.g., the URL of a second publication (or ontology) that links to the publication of interest)
  • the person making the request
  • access requested (full text, abstract only, etc.)
  • the system that should process the request
  • system where the request originates (the system that provided the publication or ontology that linked to the publication of interest, e.g., a publisher or an ontology repository).

OpenURL exists in two versions - the Framework Standard specified in NISO-Z39.88, and the earlier OpenURL0.1, which existed as a de facto standard prior to the development of the Z39.88 specification.

Here's an example of an OpenURL0.1 description: relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae&title=Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society&aulast=Armbruster&auinit=JW&date=2004&volume=141&spage=1&epage=80

However, it can also serve as a container for doi's:

For comparison, here's the first description as a ContextObject, rendered according to the SAP1 Framework Application: &rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Phylogenetic relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae&rft.jtitle=Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society&rft.aulast=Armbruster&rft.auinit=JW&

The base portion of the URL points to a resolving service, which mediates access to the resource specified in the OpenURL. SFX, which is fairly popular with university libraries, is a example. Since Phenoscape's purpose is not serve articles, the server could do little or possibly nothing at all when queried.


ANSI/NISO Z39.88 - The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services

OpenURL 0.1 specification