Working with Scholars Portal

Checklist of everything we need

  • An ISSN
  • For journals using OJS 3, enabling the required plugins (see below)
  • For journals not using OJS 3, an agreed-upon plan for sharing content
  • For journals with special conditions around harvesting, an agreement with SP to scope work

About SP & Journals

Scholars Portal (SP) is funded and overseen by the Ontario Council of  University Libraries (OCUL). We provide and maintain digital services on behalf of Ontario’s 21 university libraries, with a focus on the preservation and access of resources collected and shared by OCUL members. A short video introduction to Scholars Portal is available here.

Scholars Portal Journals began as a preservation and access platform in 2001, and now hosts over 55 million articles. While the initial focus of SP Journals was on commercial content from major publishers, we are continually growing our local, small press, and open content. If you’re reading this document, it’s probably because you have content that might be a good fit for hosting and preservation on the platform.

In 2013, Scholars Portal Journals was certified as a Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) by the Centre for Research Libraries. Certification is a stamp of approval of our long-term preservation policies and practices. Our goal is to keep scholarly knowledge safe and available for the long (long!) term.

About the SP open access harvesting program

If you have an open access journal that's available to the general public without payment, subscription, or institutional affiliation and need a long term preservation platform, we can help! Assuming you use an OAI-PMH compliant publishing system like PKP's Open Journal Systems (OJS), the whole process is automated and easy. Once your local load agreement is received and approved, your back catalogue will be loaded into Scholars Portal Journals and your journal's site will be added to the list of URLs we check each month for new publications.

At the moment we're harvesting Canadian-produced content from Canadian university libraries and organizations. If you have a journal that isn't associated with a university, but feel is a good fit for Scholars Portal Journals, let us know at before you submit the local load agreement. Scholars Portal and / or members of the Ontario Council of University Libraries reserve the right to exclude content that falls outside of its collection development policies.

What is digital preservation (generally and at SP)?

What is digital preservation?

Digital preservation works to ensure that digital objects are accessible into the future. This need extends from the fact that changing technological norms like obsolete file formats and aging storage media can create risks for continued access. It is no longer assumed that a digital object can survive years of benign neglect before preservation processes begin. Digital preservation is a set of theories and practices that work to keep digital objects authentic, available and reliable over time. Authenticity means maintaining the object’s identity (what it is, where it came from) and integrity (its unaltered state) over time. Availability ensures that objects are accessible into the future using strategies like periodically migrating copies of digital objects to new formats. Reliability is a combination of these two concepts: a reliable digital object can be trusted when proof of its authenticity is transparent and users can continue to access it as needed. Trust is established in this context from the policies, procedures and workflows of the digital repository that holds and stewards these objects.

Scholars Portal works towards supporting these practices through its preservation processing and storage workflows for all objects in the journals platform. We are guided by standards and best practices like ISO 16363: Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories. We were certified as a TDR by the Center for Research Libraries in 2013. We support the transparency of our practices by making preservation metadata accessible for all articles preserved in the platform available to users and our certification documentation is available online. Want to know more about Trustworthy Digital Repositories? Read on!

What is a Trustworthy Digital Repository?

A Trustworthy Digital Repository is an archive that has been validated by an external party as fulfilling a set of defined practices for resilient digital preservation. A TDR is established by an archive’s responses and documentation that meet a set of predefined criteria. These criteria range from broad policies and proof of organizational sustainability, to specific practices and workflows. The criteria are defined by ISO 16363: Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories standard, which was derived from the previous Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist (TRAC). Though it includes many technical elements concerning the ingest, management, storage and long-term maintenance of digital objects over time, a TDR is best understood as a set of policies and practices that together help establish trust in an organization’s capacity to preserve digital objects. A digital repository may contain content that is preserved according to the practices defined by the TDR standard, but its evaluation and validation for doing so by an external party is the key difference.

Harvesting - what we need

If you use OJS….

Journals using OJS 3 need to enable two plugins in the plugin gallery: the JATS Template Plugin and the JATS Metadata Format Plugin. Harvesting is then done through OAI-PMH.

JATS template plugin

JATS metadata plugin

In order to harvest, we need to have the URL for the journal, and the plugins above enabled. If you don't see these plugins in your list, you may need to install them through the plugin gallery (note that the JATS Metadata Format plugin is named OAI JATS):

plugin gallery

If you are not able to install the plugins, you may need to contact your site administrator as only administrators in OJS can install plugins.

Harvesting is done on a monthly basis on the first day of the month and checks for any content over the previous month. When a new journal signs the agreement, all back content for that journal will be harvested.

If you use software other than OJS…

Scholars Portal Journals ingests PDFs and metadata in many different configurations from dozens of sources. Please email with as much information as you have about your journal’s structure and format, and we can discuss how to best make it work. The only unshakeable requirement is that your journal has an ISSN, which is required for display on Scholars Portal Journals.

Who to contact

If you have a question about your editorial workflow or using OJS generally and you are at an OCUL school, there’s probably a librarian or staff member who can assist you with (this may be the person who put you in touch with us!). We work closely with OCUL staff on all technical steps of journal ingestion and preservation. PKP also has documentation available for OJS at

If you are that OCUL staff member, please send an email to