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Guidelines for Selection of Free and Open Access Web-Based Resources

Selection Policy

Recognizing that Web-based, free and open access resources of potential value abound, selectors are encouraged to utilize these resources where appropriate. Suggested criteria for selection of these materials for inclusion on the UMD Libraries website, in the WorldCat UMD Catalog, and/or in Database Finder or ResearchPort are provided here.


For purposes of this document, concepts are defined as follows:

  • Free web-based resources – include websites, documents, databases or other similar resources available to library users free of charge via the Internet.
  • Open access – materials are those that are considered "available freely to the public via the Internet," which the Budapest Open Access Initiative defines as "permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."


  • Selection of free and open access electronic resources should follow the general guidelines developed for all electronic resources, and should meet the same selection criteria as resources that are purchased.
  • Selection should be based on the site's ability to support and enhance the research and teaching activities of the University of Maryland. They should be of a scholarly nature or likely to assist in advancing scholarly research or university education programs. Relevance to campus teaching and research needs should be the primary selection criterion.
  • The quality and content of the electronic resource are likewise of great importance. Quality indicators can include peer review of the site, review of the site by other librarians, an authoritative sponsor or producer, and evidence of ongoing support (creation of archives, mirror sites, etc.).
  • Ideally, open access publications should appear in the Directory of Open Access Journals, be published by members of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) or be publications that demonstrate adherence to the OASPA Code of Conduct.
  • The amount of content provided should be significant.
  • In subject areas where similar sites exists, emphasis should be placed on creating a selective collection that highlights key resources rather than a comprehensive listing of all known resources.
  • Ease of use is also a relevant selection factor for electronic resources. Selected resources should be self-explanatory with regard to their use and offer effective support for browsing or searching.
  • Reliability and stability can also influence selection. Resources known to be frequently unavailable should not be selected.
  • If registration and/or licensing are required, licenses must be submitted for approval through the Libraries' license review process. Resources may be rejected if licensing terms are unacceptable.
  • Fee-based resources that are available on a free-trial basis for a limited period of time or password-protected Web sites available to single users are not appropriate for selection.
  • If a resource is found to no longer be in compliance with these guidelines, it may be removed.

Created 1999; Updated: 08/23/2012; Revised and expanded: 5/21/15       

Reviewed and approved by CDC 6/23/15