LibKey Link Technical FAQ

Modified on Tue, 14 May at 11:15 AM

About LibKey Link

LibKey Link delivers the benefits of fast, reliable, one-click access to PDF and HTML scholarly articles in any database you are using your OpenURL link resolver today.  Instead of users navigating through the confusing, time consuming maze of link resolver menus and vendor pages, sometimes being thwarted by broken links and dead-ends, LibKey Link brings users directly to the articles they expect to see!

LibKey Link requires that the item being requested includes:

  • A valid DOI or PMID
  • That it be available for a subscribed source held by the library or be available Open Access
  • That it be published by a LibKey supported publisher.
LibKey Link cannot provide a direct link to an article, for example if a database indexes a record where the full text is only available in print, LibKey Link intelligently falls back to the link resolver to display the other fulfillment options.

Open Access Linking

LibKey is enriched with Unpaywall data which adds article-level Open Access knowledge to Third Iron’s already substantial understanding of title-level Open Access journals.  Third Iron has taken the unique step of locally loading and synthesizing this data into our linking algorithm, delivering the advantage of only linking to the version of record, adding more links to PDF articles, removing the unneeded obstacle of authentication, and better responsiveness should there be a linking problem.  See our Open Access linking support page for more information.

The Format Chooser

Some articles are available in both PDF and HTML versions.  The Format Chooser interstitial screen will display available linking options, along with library branding, rather than linking directly to the article.

A check box allows a user to set a format preference where all future downloads will bypass the format chooser to go directly to the article.  For example, if the library is using LibKey Link in Scopus, and has enabled the format chooser, a researcher searching Scopus will see the Format Chooser screen initially; if the user selects “Automatically remember format choice for 24 hours”, then selects Download PDF, all subsequent article links will go directly to PDF for the next 24 hours.

Additionally, the Format Chooser features a link to View the Article in Context within BrowZine, providing a springboard to serendipitous discovery.

Alternate Linking Options

The Format Chooser option is enabled by default. The following alternative default linking modes are available in lieu of the Format Chooser option.

To turn on any of these modes as the default please contact

GoToFullText Option

Optionally, libraries who would prefer a completely seamless one-click solution to full text that does not ever involve a format chooser interface can elect to use GoToFullText.  This workflow seamlessly routes users to the PDF, if available, or to the Article link if the item is available but not in a PDF format.  If neither is available, GoToFullText will route the user back to the link resolver.

Article Link Express Option

The "Article Link Express" option will bypass the Format Chooser and go directly to the article link every time (if available), in lieu of offering users a choice. If an article link is not available, the user will fallback to the link resolver.

PDF Express Option

The "PDF Express" option will link users directly to the PDF if one is available. In contrast to the GoToFullText option, the fallback behavior will be to forward to the link resolver if no PDF is available, instead of going to the article link.

LibKey Link URL Syntax Options

All the variations of the LibKey Link URL syntax are documented here for easy reference. This guide provides URL syntax examples for forcing LibKey Link to behave in different ways and is useful for a more customized setup.

Where to use LibKey Link

LibKey Link may be used in any database where an OpenURL link resolver is used today.  Libraries report the most benefit in databases that include a lot of article citations, including Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, EBCSOHost and ProQuest databases, and more!

There is a separate support article that provides some guidance on these particular resources and how to update your link resolver URL to LibKey Link.

Additional Configuration

When a user clicks on a link which initiates LibKey, a screen will briefly appear indicating that LibKey is retrieving the article and show the library logo.  If you do not want this page to appear, contact and request it be suppressed.


LibKey Link is both mobile optimized and works great with assistive technologies like screen readers.  For vision impaired users in particular, going directly to content, and avoiding having to navigate the link resolver menus and vendor screens, is a huge improvement in user experience.

To learn more, visit our accessibility page with specific information on this topic.

Getting Started

To get started with LibKey Link, simply complete the short form available here.