NISO Publishes Recommended Practice on Improved Access to Institutionally-Provided Information Resources

Baltimore – July 1, 2019 – The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has published a new Recommended Practice on Improved Access to Institutionally-Provided Information Resources. This NISO Recommended practice provides recommendations for using federated identity as an access model and improving the federated authentication user experience, arising from the Resource Access for the 21st Century (RA21) initiative.

Ralph Youngen, Co-Chair of the RA21 Initiative and Director, Publishing Systems Integration at the American Chemical Society explained the challenge RA21 addressed. “While users today expect always-on connectivity from any location, at any time, from any device, they are often faced with a confusing diversity of options to facilitate remote access to scholarly information resources. Launched in 2016 as a joint initiative of STM and NISO, RA21 sought to harness the existing identity federation infrastructure to improve the user experience for accessing scholarly resources while also protecting privacy. RA21 identified SAML-based federated authentication as holding the most promise to provide a robust, scalable solution for secure, remote access to scholarly resources.”

By fostering collaboration among stakeholders from academic institutions, corporations, identity federations, and scholarly publishers to conduct pilots and test prototypes, the research undertaken by RA21 has led to the development of recommendations offering guidance to Service Providers (SPs), such as publishers, tools vendors and research infrastructure providers, Identity Providers (IdPs), including libraries and institutional Identity and Access Management systems, and Identity Federation operators.

Athena Hoeppner, Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Central Florida and Co-Chair of the NISO Information Policy and Analysis Topic Committee that oversaw the RA21 work, added, “RA21 greatly benefited from the breadth and variety of participants involved in its development, serving formally on the committees, and informally as reviewers and commenters, comprising a representative cross section of stakeholders and interested parties.  Its adoption is a boon for our users because it significantly improves the prospects for streamlined Single Sign-On across a wide swath of institutionally-provided services and benefits, including subscribed resources and shared research infrastructures, and promotes the use of secure, privacy-preserving authentication and authorization systems by institutions and service providers.”

The implementation of the RA21 recommendation will be led by a coalition of industry partners, called the Coalition for Seamless Access. The Coalition will implement the RA21 services in a beta phase beginning in the fall of 2019 to test the RA21 technology, assess its impact on the user experience, conduct reviews of its security and privacy implications and provide feedback on possible revisions to the recommendation based on implementation activity.

The NISO Recommended Practices for Improved Access to Institutionally-Provided Information Resources is available on the NISO website page at:  More information about the RA21 initiative is available on

About NISO

NISO, based in Baltimore, MD, fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of information standards. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For more information, visit the NISO website.

About  STM

STM is the leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers. It has over 150 members in 21 countries who each year collectively publish nearly 66% of all journal articles and tens of thousands of monographs and reference works. STM members include learned societies, university presses, both subscription and open access publishers, new starts, and established players.  For more information, visit the STM website.

About RA21

Resource Access for the 21st Century (RA21 is a joint STM and NISO initiative aimed at optimizing protocols across key stakeholder groups, with a goal of facilitating a seamless user experience for consumers of scientific communication.  Learn more at the RA21 website.