What the OpenURL data are

The OpenURL data consist of user logs. They contain information about what content has been requested by a user within a single session. They do not contain any information that may identify an individual and, the openly available data, contain no information that may identify an institution.

Data about requests not outcomes

All OpenURL requests made by end users via the Router at are logged. In many cases they indicate which article(s) the user was attempting to find via their local OpenURL resolver. (This depends on which metadata are included in requests by the referring services).

The OpenURL Router redirects the user's request to the appropriate local resolver. This means that the OpenURL Router logs only requests the outcome (i.e. whether the end user obtained a copy of the article, and from where) is unknown to the Router.

The OpenURL Router supports various types of requests other than links direct to local resolvers. These include the "lookup" requests (registry searches) and requests for the preferred button image to be used for each resolver. These requests are all logged, but they are not OpenURL requests and do not contain bibliographic metadata.

The OpenURL Router Data are thus data about traffic flowing through the UK OpenURL Router, and are sometimes known as activity data. The data are made publicly available so that other service providers may use them.

What data are made available

Before being made available in any form, the data are anonymised to remove data that may identify an individual institution or individual person. Then the data file is made available 'as is'. We refer to this file as the Level 1 data file. It includes resolver redirect requests and those "lookup" requests where no institution is identified. It excludes the button requests as these identify an institution. It may be used by anybody for any purpose that they believe will be useful, such as for analysis or to create services for UK Higher and Further Education.

The Level 2 data file contains data that have been processed further, i.e. all extraneous data have been removed leaving only redirection data. EDINA uses these data as the basis of a prototype recommender service for UK HE and makes them available for others to use.

The following table indicates the levels of data file generated and whether or not these are openly available.

LevelWhat's this?What has been processed?Is it available?
0Original log file DataNo processing (contains identifiable IP addresses and institutions)No
1Anonymised DataIP addresses are encrypted using an algorithm and institutional identifiers are anonymisedNo
2Anonymised Redirect DataA subset of the Level 1 data, containing only entries that redirect to a resolverYes

Specific data captured

The data captured vary from request to request, since different users enter different information into requests. In some cases very little data is captured.

Log-specific request data (based on OpenURL Router log entries):

Request-specific data (based on the OpenURL standard):

As the OpenURL Router Data files are large, sample files are available containing a subset of the data for initial analysis.


OpenURL is a Jisc-sponsored service, and is administered jointly by EDINA.