Trustworthy Digital Preservation at Scholars Portal

A Canadian access and preservation service for digital publications.

Scholars Portal preserves and gives access to licensed digital content on behalf of our members. Our platforms make content available to licensed users while ensuring that it is properly preserved for the long term.

In 2013, the Scholars Portal Journals Service was certified as a Trustworthy Digital Repository by the Center for Research Libraries. As a key contributor to the global preservation community, we make all of our documentation openly available and contribute our holdings records to the Keepers Registry. Our members value our services as their core preservation strategy.



Our content platforms ensure that preserved materials are available when licensed users need them most. Scholars Portal’s user-friendly content platforms enable an efficient access experience.


Scholars Portal staff conduct regular audits and checks for vulnerabilities and abnormal use that are key to ensuring the long-term viability and security of hosted content.


Participants recognize that using Scholars Portal as a unique Canadian site for preserving their content means that they are contributing to a diversified archive of their digital assets.


Reliable digital preservation is hard to do alone. Content providers and members who work with Scholars Portal recognize the advantage of having a partner with staff expertise in digital preservation and Trustworthy Digital Repository certification.


Scholars Portal’s preservation approach is unique. Approved content is subject to robust digital preservation practices, but is also available to licensed users. We make perpetual access truly perpetual.

  • Platforms

    Content platforms devoted to journals and books content make for a smooth search and discovery experience for licensed users. Knowledge base updates ensure access is seamless.

  • Entitlements

    Secure authentication and entitlement processes can restrict usage down to individual journal issues or articles.

  • Transparency

    Our data is continuously verified by our users, making for a high-quality archive. And our documentation is available for all to see—what we preserve and how we do it is no secret.

  • Usage

    COUNTER-compliant usage statistics for the platform are provided to publishers and libraries on a regular basis.


Frequently Asked Questions

The field of digital preservation responds to the basic need to ensure that digital objects can be accessed into the future. This need extends from the fact that quickly-changing technological norms create risks for access that must be managed from the time of the object’s creation onward. 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 an object’s identity (its uniqueness, provenance and relationships with other objects) and integrity (its unaltered state) over time. Availability ensures that records are accessible into the future through strategies such as migrating copies of digital objects to new formats. Reliability is a combination of these two ideas: a reliable digital object can be trusted when proof of authenticity and availability are transparent. Trust is established in this context from the policies, processes and workflows of the digital repository that holds these objects. Repositories seek to meet established standards for digital preservation, such as the Open Archival Information System standard (ISO 14721) and the Trustworthy Digital Repository standard (ISO 16363), in order to demonstrate reliability in a systematic way.

Among other functions for preservation processing and maintenance, Scholars Portal performs processes such as fixity checks, file format identification, characterization and validation, and migration as required on digital objects in the 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 criteria. These criteria range from broad policies and proof of organizational sustainability, to specific practices and workflows. The most formal set of criteria are defined by ISO 16363, Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories standard, which was derived from the 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 documented 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 its ability to so by an external party is the key difference.

Scholars Portal was certified as a TDR by the Center for Research Libraries in 2013. Our documentation is available online.

Resilient digital preservation is hard to do alone. Publishers and other content providers who work with Scholars Portal recognize the advantage of having a reliable partner with staff expertise in digital preservation and Trustworthy Digital Repository certification. Scholars Portal implements the ISO 16363 standard for trustworthy digital repositories and follows the OAIS reference model for digital preservation. Scholars Portal staff conduct regular audits and checks for vulnerabilities and abnormal use that are key to ensuring the long-term viability and security of hosted content. Finally, publishers recognize that using Scholars Portal as a unique Canadian site for preserving their content means that they are contributing to a diversified archive of their valuable digital assets.

Libraries commit to ensuring continued access to purchased materials on behalf of their users - researchers, faculty and students who depend on access to scholarly publications and other content to pursue their work. Libraries face barriers to seamless access on third-party platforms, including when the ownership of titles change hands, provider policies change, or providers go out of business. Scholars Portal’s longstanding relationships with content providers through local load agreements ensure that perpetual access is maintained.

Secondly, there is the larger issue of ensuring that the digital scholarly record is properly preserved – in all of its diversity – for the future. The preservation of the digital scholarly record is impossible for any one institution do alone. The scale of digital publication production necessitates collaborative, library-funded and managed approaches to ensure that scholarly materials can continue to be accessed and relied upon in the future. Scholars Portal’s Trusted Digital Repository positions participating libraries as fulfilling this mandate.

Participating libraries link to Scholars Portal via their knowledge bases as a secondary access method for users in addition to provider platforms. Experience has shown that users value Scholars Portal’s platforms as a method of accessing materials, especially in cases where publisher platforms may be down. Scholars Portal works with major knowledge base providers to update our holdings records.

We take considered steps to ensure the security of publisher-supplied data. Data storage is never outsourced to third parties. Access to data centres is restricted to IT staff and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs) are in place. Data centres implement standard security controls, including the use of firewalls, to limit inbound and outbound traffic to specific ports and from specific domains. Firewalls also detect abnormal activity that is typically associated with harvesting bots. Apache security modules are in place and work in conjunction with the firewall to prevent excessive traffic and downloads. Full text access and downloading is restricted to recognized IP addresses. Servers are monitored to ensure the number of connections from a specific IP or institutional proxy user account does not exceed a predetermined threshold.

Scholars Portal is one of several preservation services in North America based on the principle of preserving publications purchased by academic libraries for the long-term. Scholars Portal’s service is based on twenty years' experience in maintaining local copies of licensed content for continued access and preservation. These efforts began at the University of Toronto in the late 1990s and were continued by OCUL in the late early 2000s as OCUL matured processes for consortial licensing. In turn, the corpus of loaded materials formed the basis of one of Scholars Portal’s first services in 2002: the journals platform.

Other library content-based preservation services include Portico and CLOCKSS. Both Portico and CLOCKSS were developed around the same time as Scholars Portal as the library community began to recognize the risk presented by large volumes of unpreserved born-digital publications. Together with Scholars Portal, these services represent the diversity in approaches and methods for the preservation of scholarly publications for the future.

The key difference between these services and Scholars Portal is our emphasis on initiating perpetual access from the point of subscription. Eligible content loaded within Scholars Portal is immediately accessible to authenticated users via the appropriate platform. As such, the archive is continuously validated by these users, which ensures that the quality of the archive is verified early on in the process rather than at some later date when issues may be more difficult to fix.

Contact us! There is no cost for publishers to load and archive content in Scholars Portal. Publishers and other content providers work with Ontario Council of University Libraries licensing staff and technical support staff at Scholars Portal to develop a plan for ongoing full text and metadata content delivery. The exchange of sample data to test entitlements, loading, and the finalization of the Local Hosting and Archiving License Agreement can be handled through a few conference calls and email exchanges. Publisher representatives are also welcome to visit Scholars Portal offices in-person at the University of Toronto Robarts Library. Please get in touch using the form below.


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