Pediatrics. Female doctor with mother and child.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): A ‘set and forget’ single sign-on solution

12 April 2022 | Lauren Harding, senior marketing officer

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the world’s largest publisher in the paediatrics field. Now its resources have been brought together into the AAP Publications Platform. It is hosted by Silverchair, whose collaboration with OpenAthens has created a portal that gives users the easiest, most direct journey to the resources they want.

Overview

Until recently, AAP offered their resources via two vendors. Customers were accessing both platforms via OpenAthens using a variety of library management systems, intranet portals, and sometimes a company’s active directory. The global OpenAthens Federation is unique because it is available to customers outside the education and research sector.

AAP wanted to bring all their resources together on a single platform to maximize reach and impact via a ‘one-stop shop’. To do so successfully, says Alfred Gozun, application support specialist at AAP, meant addressing his customers’ biggest asks:

“Librarians, in particular, want the ability to authenticate via SAML protocols because it lightens their workload. And they want their users to be directed to resources via WAYfless access and deep linking. These mean they don’t have to sign in again or navigate around unfamiliar websites to find what they want.”

AAP asked Silverchair to help develop a solution which included an OpenAthens Federation integration. They needed a custom build that meets customers’ needs and ensures a seamless, single sign-on solution between multiple systems. AAP and Silverchair worked with OpenAthens to ensure a smooth migration from AAP’s previous platform and give users the easiest, most direct journey to the resources they want.

Solution

Silverchair and OpenAthens have collaborated in this way several times, but a few things made this project different. It was Silverchair’s first build with WAYFless and deep linking, which allows librarians to build links that bypass Silverchair’s sign-in page. This means users can get straight onto the AAP portal from their library page with all the authentication happening in the background. This was also Silverchair’s first project migrating the content from two different platforms into a single instance.

“We liaised between OpenAthens and AAP to get the account set up,” says Patrick Jordan, lead build business analyst at Silverchair. “We helped to streamline, transfer data, and migrate from AAP’s old systems. We set up the metadata and submitted it to the OpenAthens Federation, InCommon Federation in the United States, and the eduGAIN interfederation service to give the AAP platform the widest possible reach.”

Although this project introduced several firsts it launched without a hitch. OpenAthens is easy to test and the go-live and switch-over stages went smoothly.

Benefits

One of the stand-out benefits of the new implementation is an improved user experience, says Phil Leahy, key client services manager at OpenAthens:

"In the last five years we’ve seen requests for deep linking shoot to the top of librarians’ wish lists.”

To support this need, OpenAthens developed the Redirector, a tool that provides a scalable way to propagate links. It puts the URL of a page in a resource on the end of a consistent, customer-specific prefix. The Redirector has become the most important OpenAthens feature in the last few years. “It shaves off friction,” Phil explains. “It’s a great example of how publishers, platform partners and federation operators are working together to streamline the user’s journey.”

AAP staff now receive fewer requests for help from end users and this shows the implementation is working as planned, says Alfred Gozun. Even so, AAP has kept proxy access for users who are still using a proxy server configuration for access. And they expect to do so for some time, so that all customers are supported.

Federated access is freeing up AAP to make better use of its own internal staffing resources. The complexities of onboarding are managed by AAP’s customer services team rather than having technical conversations about peer-to-peer SAML connections and proxy stanzas. The publisher can, as Alfred Gozun says, “set it and forget it”. At the same time, he says, “for the library user it just works seamlessly, it’s like magic.”

“Federated access is more important than ever, now that we are seeing a long-term shift towards academic users working off-campus, And businesses are experiencing a similar change in attitudes. We’re thinking about how they could leverage the federations that universities and research organizations are familiar with to support their own access management requirements.”

Hannah Heckner, director of product strategy at Silverchair

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