The Scholarly Kitchen: “What Can I Do with This? Indicators of Usage Rights in the User Interface”
With the continued push towards open access (OA) and the complicated nature of copyright law, users are often left wondering what they can do with the scholarly articles they find. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are the predominant mechanism for communicating usage rights; however, finding the CC license information — or being confident that there is not any — can be a challenge. Today we report on a project to investigate how publisher platforms represent CC licenses for OA and non-OA journal articles. We looked at how publishing platforms indicate usage rights for articles in results displays as well as in full-text formats.
Our investigation found that the location and format of usage rights language differed across platforms and between full-text article formats on the same platforms. We also found that usage rights are not shown in search results or offered as limiters or filters and there is inconsistent use of CC badges/icons. HTML layouts differed the most across platforms, making it particularly challenging to find usage rights information.
The ability for users to find usage rights information is challenging in part because each publisher has their own design and layout standards. The publishers and formats that utilize print layout conventions improve discovery of CC license information. While we do not argue that maintaining those print layout conventions is necessarily the solution, it is important that cross-industry collaboration occurs so that the overall user experience is coherent. The challenge here, as with OA indicators, is that the user experience is not in the control of any one publisher as users will find themselves on multiple platforms through the course of their research. Cross-industry collaboration will be needed to establish guidelines and recommendations for best practices.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.