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Ovid Opens Full-Text Journal Articles to Pay-Per-View Access
Posted On December 15, 2003
Ovid, a leading online service for medical, health sciences, and pharmaceutical information, has announced a new PayPerView Service for the full text of medical journals. The service is designed to open access to nonsubscribers, both nonsubscribers to the journals via institutional library subscriptions and to Ovid itself. With the current ongoing rebellion by large libraries against "big deal" packages of online journal access (see "Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles,", this approach by Ovid could help librarians building collections around high-use titles to offer clients a safety net service for access to unsubscribed journals. The Microsoft Office 2003 and PubMed connections let Ovid reach new markets not currently using its services. At present, only 339 of the more than 900 journals in the Journals@Ovid full-text collection are available for pay-per-view, but Ovid expects to expand that number quickly.

"The vast amount of information medical professionals need to make informed decisions on patient care, drug discovery, and other critical healthcare issues, should not be compromised by the practical limitations every institution faces when choosing the content to which they subscribe," said Bette Brunelle, executive vice president of products and services at Ovid. "Ovid's new PayPerView service is a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution for clinicians, researchers, and students who need access to full-text articles."

Users connected to either Ovid or its SilverPlatter platform may simply go to the Journals@Ovid database or use bibliographic databases with article reference links. Ovid supports OpenURL linking, which also allows connecting through CrossRef DOIs, the system widely supported by scholarly publishers. Once users identify articles of interest, they can purchase full-text journal articles using a credit card. Non-Ovid users can purchase full text through external resources, such as PubMed, the National Library of Medicine's popular free service, and through the Research Pane on the new Microsoft Office System 2003. The Microsoft Office 2003 option comes from a Look-Up feature connected to Journals@Ovid for searching and displaying.

A "Buy Now" link will appear for any PayPerView licensed article. The system will verify credit card authorization, set up an account for users without one already, then e-mail a selected article link to the user. Users will see the price of everything throughout the purchase experience. No surprises. Articles purchased will remain accessible to users on their accounts for 24 hours and are available for downloading, e-mailing, or saving at another location. Administrators working within the Ovid system can enable or disable the PayPerView for specific groups.

Scott MacFarland, Ovid's vice president of content management, explained that the system protects users from unnecessary purchases in several ways. "If an institution subscribes to an electronic journal through their library, then users who come into the system using an IP address will not even see the PayPerView icon. The link will just go to the subscription version. We will only show the PayPerView option when there is no subscription. But if the user comes in from an outside address, the system does remind them that the library may have a subscription already."

Most articles will be available in both PDF and HTML format, according to MacFarland. He said that Ovid takes the articles from what the publishers send them, which usually include full-image. The PayPerView feature will notify users of the available formats for articles they request.

Pricing varies based on individual publisher copyright fees plus a $10 handling fee. At present, the costs could look high to end users. MacFarland said that copyright fees range from $3 to $5 at the low end to $30 or $40 at the high end. The Wolters Kluwer Health journals from Lippincott—some 200 of the initial 339—waive the Ovid handling fee. MacFarland also indicated that Ovid had done a lot of work on the pricing and, if it could lower them, it would. At present, the handling fee covers costs and a small profit.

The underlying technology enabling Ovid's PayPerView Service comes from eMeta Software's eRights Suite. The eRights software enforces Ovid's PayPerView policies, provides a shopping cart, customer care, and customer self-care, allows users to view their billing transactions and order history, and maintains personal information. The system manages transactions and refunds and provides report data to Ovid. Founded in 1998, eMeta provides authentication, authorization, and e-commerce services for the marketing, selling, and distribution of digital assets.

MacFarland said that Ovid was working with publishers to expand the number of journals offered through PayPerView. It also intended to look into offering PayPerView access to information from the 158 full-text books Ovid handles as well as its many other bibliographic databases. The books pose a more involved challenge in judging how much and what exactly people would want from different kinds of titles—the "appropriate discrete elements," as MacFarland described it. For example, in the case of a monograph, would users want a chapter or a section? In the case of a reference book, would they want a fact or a company or product profile?

Ovid is working to expand access through PayPerView, according to MacFarland. For example, PayPerView access will be available for content from the newly announced IEEE Biomedical Library, an online collection of over 40,000 documents from IEEE and the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), covering biomedical engineering, biotechnology, and biomedicine.

An operating company in Wolters Kluwer's Health division, Ovid's target markets are colleges and universities; medical schools; academic research libraries and library consortia; hospitals and healthcare systems; pharmaceutical, engineering, and biotechnology companies; HMOs and clinical practices.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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