Brief guide to Implementing OpenURL 1.0 Context Object for Journal Articles

(see also a corresponding guide for books.)

A ContextObject for Journal Articles is a metadata package that describes a reference to a journal article.

Here's the smallest amount of information that you need to know to make correct, minimized, NISO OpenURL 1.0 ContextObject for journals and journal articles:

a 1.0 OpenURL ContextObject using the "journal" metadata format can be made as follows


If you append a ContextObject to the end of <baseurl>?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&, you get a valid 1.0 OpenURL link.<baseurl> is the address of an OpenURL link service.

ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004 says "this is a version 1.0 OpenURL ContextObject".

rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal says "this ContextObject uses the info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal metadata format to describe the thing that the ContextObject is about". (the value of the format identifier here has been percent-encoded; "kev" stands for key-encoded-value)

The journal metadata <key>s are summarized below (order does not matter, all elements are optional.) Values need to be percent-encoded. In other words:

<space> --> %20
# --> %23
% --> %25
& --> %26
+ --> %2B  
/ --> %2F
< --> %3C
= --> %3D
> --> %3E
? --> %3F
: --> %3A
You also need to escape accented characters, such as:
é --> %C3%A9
ü --> %C3%BC
but you'll want professional help for them!

If you're reading a ContextObject, note that some implementations may URL encode ALL the characters in the values, not just the ones listed here!

It's strongly recommended that you add a "referrer id" to say who made the ContextObject. Do it like this:


If you have a doi or a url for the thing you're describing, you can add them like this:

Key Explanation
rft.atitle Article title.
rft.title Journal title. Provided for compatibility with version 0.1. Prefer jtitle.
rft.jtitle Journal title. Use the most complete title available. Abbreviated titles, when known, are records in stitle. This can also be expressed as title, for compatibility with version 0.1. "journal of the american medical association"
rft.stitle Abbreviated or short journal title. This is used for journal title abbreviations, where known, i.e. "J Am Med Assn" Date of publication.
rft.volume Volume designation.Volume is usually expressed as a number but could be roman numerals or non-numeric, i.e. "124", or "VI".
rft.issue This is the designation of the published issue of a journal, corresponding to the actual physical piece in most cases. While usually numeric, it could be non-numeric. Note that some publications use chronology in the place of enumeration, i.e. Spring, 1998.
rft.spage First page number of a start/end (spage-epage) pair. Note that pages are not always numeric.
rft.epage Second (ending) page number of a start/end (spage-epage) pair.
rft.pages Start and end pages, i.e. "53-58". This can also be used for an unstructured pagination statement when data relating to pagination cannot be interpreted as a start-end pair, i.e. "A7, C4-9", "1-3,6". This data element includes the OpenURL 0.1 definition of "pages".
rft.artnum Article number assigned by the publisher. Article numbers are often generated for publications that do not have usable pagination, in particular electronic journal articles, i.e. "unifi000000090". A URL may be the only usable identifier for an online article, in which case the URL can be treated as an identifier for the article (i.e. "rft_id= issues/issue6_2/odlyzko/ index.html").
rft.issn International Standard Serials Number (ISSN). The issn may contain a hyphen, i.e. "1041-5653"
rft.eissn ISSN for electronic version of the journal. Although there is no distinction by format in the assignment of ISSNs, some bibliographic services now carry both the ISSN for the paper version and a separate ISSN for the electronic version. This data element is included here to allow the OpenURL to carry both ISSNs and distinguish them.
rft.aulast First author's family name. This may be more than one word. In many citations, the author's family name is recorded first and is followed by a comma, i.e. Smith, Fred James is recorded as "aulast=smith"
rft.aufirst First author's given name or names or initials. This data element may contain multiple words and punctuation, i.e, "Fred James"
rft.auinit First author's first and middle initials.
rft.auinit1 First author's first initial.
rft.auinitm First author's middle initial.
rft.ausuffix First author's name suffix. Qualifiers on an author's name such as "Jr.", "III" are entered here. i.e. Smith, Fred Jr. is recorded as "ausuffux=jr" This data element contains the full name of a single author, i. e. "Smith, Fred M", "Harry S. Truman".
rft.aucorp Organization or corporation that is the author or creator of the document, i.e. "Mellon Foundation"
rft.isbn International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The ISBN is usually presented as 9 digits plus a final check digit (which may be "X"), i.e. "057117678X" but it may contain hyphens, i.e. "1-878067-73-7"
rft.coden CODEN
rft.sici Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (SICI)
one instance of the serial publication.
a document published in a journal.
a single conference presentation published in a journal or serial publication
a record of a conference that includes one or more conference papers and that is published as an issue of a journal or serial publication
an individual paper or report published in paper or electronically prior to its publication in a journal or serial.
use when the genre of the document is unknown.
rft.chron Enumeration or chronology in not-normalized form, i.e. "1st quarter". Where numeric dates are also available, place the numeric portion in the "date" Key. So a recorded date of publication of "1st quarter 1992" becomes date=1992&chron=1st quarter. Normalized indications of chronology can be provided in the ssn and quarter Keys.
rft.ssn Season (chronology). Legitimate values are spring, summer, fall, winter
rft.quarter Quarter (chronology). Legitimate values are 1, 2, 3, 4.
rft.part Part can be a special subdivision of a volume or it can be the highest level division of the journal. Parts are often designated with letters or names, i.e. "B", "Supplement".

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