How GetFTR supports the ScienceDirect content syndication pilot

At the start of 2022, Elsevier announced a collaboration to make articles from selected journals from five of the largest publishers and societies visible and discoverable on ScienceDirect. This pilot initiative means articles from participating publishers are discoverable in search and browse listings on ScienceDirect alongside Elsevier journal content, optimizing the reading experience for users as they discover and access content. At the time of the announcement, the pilot included publications from the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley. Several other leading publishers and societies have now joined the pilot. At the time of writing this case study, the initiative remains active and growing, with positive feedback from users and librarians and usage data shared in a blog post and a more detailed report by Elsevier in May 2023. One key data point from the report is that the total reach for individual journals included in the pilot increased by up to 18.8% – corroborating the value for publishers to syndicate content and underlining the need for easily accessible infrastructure to support it.

GetFTR’s Role

GetFTR has been a key enabler for this content syndication pilot right from the start (see also this GetFTR blog post). In the original announcement, Todd Toler (Group VP for Product Strategy and Partnerships at Wiley) remarked that:

“Its real-time entitlement checks mean researchers can more easily access content their institution has made available to them when they are both on or off campus, and whether they are searching the publisher’s platform directly or using a variety of search and discovery tools.”

Since then, several of the participating publishers have spoken about how GetFTR has played an important role in forging and executing this collaborative project.

So, how exactly does GetFTR support this kind of content syndication arrangement? In a nutshell, GetFTR provides the relevant parties with a reliable, standardized, and easy-to-use solution – that is also highly accurate and respects user privacy – to share entitlement data between publishers and content hosting platforms. This entitlement sharing is, of course, just one piece of the puzzle to make content syndication work – but it’s an essential part, and one where the availability of a trusted infrastructure solution like GetFTR makes all the difference. 

Client Feedback

In a recent conversation, Judson Dunham (Senior Director of Product Management at Elsevier) explained how he thinks about GetFTR as helping ScienceDirect optimize the user experience to the extent that, for the end-user, the experience in browsing and accessing third-party content is as smooth and frictionless as it is for Elsevier’s proprietary content hosted on ScienceDirect.

“Thanks to GetFTR, we are able to offer entitled users the same, highly optimized user journey to access content from our partner publishers as we provide for Elsevier’s own content on ScienceDirect. With GetFTR we can show users that they will have access to a specific article before clicking on the link, which is a signal that we know users are strongly attracted to”.

This is also reflected in user behavior, as users click through to the publisher website an average of 10% more often when there is a pre-verified, GetFTR enabled PDF button on the ScienceDirect article page.

How does it benefit the community?

In addition to helping ScienceDirect provide a great user experience, Jud explains that GetFTR is attractive for other publishers taking part in their pilot, as well as for the librarians that they spoke with, because it builds on existing agreements and processes through which publishers and librarians manage and measure access to content. In other words, GetFTR is simply a way to extend the entitlement agreements between publishers and librarians to other platforms, which in turn enables those other platforms to aggregate and report usage back to the librarian via the publisher in a way the library can trust. In addition, GetFTR fully respects patron privacy and does not have access to any personal data except for the user’s affiliation to ascertain whether or not they are entitled to a particular piece of content (see also GetFTR: dataflows and user privacy).

Finally, for Elsevier, using GetFTR meant integrating with a widely used, turn-key solution – thus avoiding the need to invest in developing new technology and in supporting individual onboarding and integration efforts. 

From a GetFTR perspective, this pilot clearly demonstrates how innovative approaches and partnerships can improve the distribution of scholarly content. It also shows how GetFTR offers key enabling infrastructure that is required by such partnerships, fulfilling its mission to close the gap between access and discovery in exciting new ways.