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Answered By: Katy Webb
Last Updated: Jun 06, 2018     Views: 667

Linking to ECU Libraries' electronic resources instead of posting PDFs online helps ensure that you and your students are in compliance with license terms for those resources and allows the Libraries to count resource use (for more information, see below). You may use these instructions to create stable links to electronic resources.


The Basics

You can follow these three simple steps to create a stable link to an electronic resource licensed by ECU Libraries:

1. Find a permanent link to the article or other electronic resource you want to link to. These links vary from database to database and are called by various names- look for terms like "Permalink," "Stable URL," or "Persistent URL." 

2. Add the ECU proxy prefix to the beginning of the permanent link. The proxy prefix allows electronic resources to be accessed from off-campus by allowing you to login with your PirateID and password before viewing the resource. The ECU proxy prefix is:

3. Check to make sure the link takes you to the resource you intended. 



Let's look at some examples. Suppose you're teaching a class on nutrition and you want to put links in Blackboard for some articles that your students have been assigned to read. After you find the first article you want in JSTOR, you have to look for a permanent link. In JSTOR, permanent links are called stable URLs and are prominently displayed (see highlighted area of image below):

example JSTOR article


Since you've found a permanent link to this article, you simply need to copy and paste the ECU proxy prefix at the beginning of it:

Testing the link verifies that it works correctly, so you now have a link that allows both on-campus and off-campus students to access this article.

You find the next article you want to link to in ScienceDirect, so again you start looking for a permanent link to the article. Eventually you find a DOI-based URL (see highlighted area in image).

example ScienceDirect article


This DOI-based URL is another type of permanent link, so you can again simply add the ECU proxy prefix to the permanent link to create a stable link in Blackboard:


Additional Helpful Information

As you can see from the two examples given above, there are numerous different ways that electronic resource platforms provide permanent links to articles. Some of these platforms, such as EBSCOhost, will even include the ECU proxy prefix in the permanent link they provide. Other platforms won't provide a permanent link at all. Here are some common things you may encounter when looking for permanent links to electronic resources:

  • A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, “provides an infrastructure for persistent, unique identification of objects of any type” (see for more information). These will look like a series of numbers with some punctuation breaking up the various sets (e.g. doi:10.1000/182). To create a URL based off of a DOI (as ScienceDirect has already done in the example above), you need to add to the front of the DOI before adding the proxy prefix.
  • The term "Permalink," which is often indicated by a symbol of two connected chain links. Clicking on this symbol, or one similar, will open a pop-up window that contains the link that you can copy and paste.
  • The Bookmark or Cite options are another place to look if you cannot find a link anywhere else. Selecting to bookmark the resource will typically open a pop-up window that shows the persistent link to the resource. If bookmark is unavailable, look for a cite option. This option will sometimes require you to save a text file (.txt) to your computer, but often includes a link to the resource. This link is considered to be the permanent link to the resource since it would be used for a reference or works cited page.

If you have a question about creating a stable link to an electronic resource licensed by ECU Libraries, please submit your question using the Libraries' Electronic Resources Error Report form.

Why to Link Instead of Posting

ECU Libraries’ electronic resources are licensed under terms that restrict how these resources may be accessed. In some instances, these restrictions prohibit ECU users from posting electronic resource content (e.g. a PDF copy of an article) on Blackboard and other course-related websites. To ensure that they are in compliance with license terms, ECU users should post links to content rather than the content itself.

Another reason to link to electronic resource content is that it enables the ECU Libraries to more accurately count usage of the content. Usage data is used by the Libraries to help make renewal decisions for electronic resource subscriptions. Accordingly, linking to an electronic resource increases the likelihood that the Libraries will continue to subscribe to that resource.

This LibAnswer was created in part based off of the UNC Chapel Hill University Libraries Link Builder webpage.

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