Online Resource button

The Online Resource button is a nice feature in Reading Lists Online that allows a student to see at a glance which resources are available online and gives one click access to the resource from the list:


Sounds simple but as is often the case, providing one-click access to e-resources isn’t always easy in practice. Here’s an explanation of how the online resource button works.

When you bookmark an article (or book, book chapter or journal) the option to display the online resource button in the reading list will usually – but not always – be ticked by default. If it isn’t already ticked, you can do this when you create a bookmark:


As there are several different ways to link to an article, RLO has to decide which link to use when the online resource button is ticked. By default it will choose which link to use in this order:

The Web Address will be used if it exists

The OpenURL link will be used if there is no Web Address

The DOI link will be used if there is neither a Web Address or OpenURL link

If the online resource button link doesn’t work (e.g. it gives an error or links to an article behind a paywall), you can manually change its behaviour. Edit the bookmark, untick and re-tick the Online Resource button and you will be given the option to choose the linking behaviour:


Each option has its pros and cons. If you are unsure which link is best, consider the following.

Web Address

The Web Address is an optional field you can add when creating or editing a bookmark



  • The web address provides a direct link to the resource
  • You can manually edit (or delete) this link in the bookmark
  • You can link to anything, inclucing freely available PDFs and non-subscribed resources


  • The web address may or may not authenticate the user (does it contain the WAM or OpenAthens linking syntax?)
  • The web address is ‘fixed’. If the resource moves or the link or authentication method changes, this link may stop working and need to be manually updated
  • Sometimes a web address link will go to a resource we do not actually subscribe to so the student may hit a paywall


The OpenURL link will always be present for an article but requires the following information to be specified in the bookmark for it to work:

DOI or date, ISSN, volume, issue and start page


OpenURL links (via our Link Resolver) use our knowledgebase to create links to articles and journals we subscribe to.  They are more robust than static web links because they check our holdings and create the article link on-the-fly, so if a journal moves platform, the link resolver will automatically link to the new platform.


  • The link will always contain authentication (e.g. WAM or OpenAthens)
  • It will only link to resources we actually subscribe to
  • You do not need to update OpenURL links if a resource moves platform


  • You can only link to our subscribed resources (i.e. you cannot usually link to a free resource via an OpenURL)
  • It is a 2-click link via an intermediary screen not a direct article link


DOIs allow direct linking to articles via a unique identifier.


  • Provides a direct link to the article (via Crossref but the user will not see this intermediary step)
  • A DOI is a quick and easy way to create a direct article link


  • The DOI always links to the article on the publishers website, but our access may be provided by an aggregator (i.e. we may have access to an article but not on the publishers platform)
  • The DOI link will not usually include our authentication so the user may hit a paywall (even if we have access to the article)
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