He athens registration programme Update report to shall content & Collection Development Group Introduction

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HE Athens registration programme

Update report to SHALL Content & Collection Development Group


In June 2011 the objectives of the Task and Finish Group were agreed:

  • To implement access to Core Content resources for all HE students on NHS commissioned courses in a rapid and practical way and for this to be available and ready to use from 1 August 2011.

  • To make recommendations on the best way routes to put the mechanism in place

  • To work on advocacy and promotion so that both NHS and HE librarians were fully aware of this development

  • To create Athens administration documentation for HE librarians or other HE colleagues who will be administering the process within the HEIs

Progress to date

The Group identified 82 HEIs as being providers of NHS-commissioned healthcare education and there was a blanket publicity campaign to get HEI libraries to contact the UHMLG team who would facilitate the contact process through to Emma Webb. The campaign involved use of the major subject JISCMail lists and through letters from Education Commissioners to HEIs.

To date, 54 HEI have registered Athens administrators (see page 5/6 of this report) and their engagement with the programme is at varying stages as we expected. In April 2012, we contacted all of the registered administrators to ask for a brief status report and their responses are listed in the attached appendix. We have reproduced the comments verbatim as they give a good idea of the spectrum of experience and depth of take-up by HEIs.

Key points

  • The communication plan was effective but for future reference, a greater use of web 2.0 networking could aid the spread of information as not everyone is a member of the large subject-related JISCMail lists.

  • The registration mechanism for administrators has worked fairly well. Especial thanks are due to Emma Webb and Colin Davies for their help in advising and registering HE Athens administrators.

  • The phased take-up of student registrations is progressing as anticipated over a long timescale.

  • We have not had much feedback from NHS Athens administrators but where we have, those have been unstinting in their support and help.

  • The wiki appears to be delivering help and support without the need for a peer network by email. Typical queries from HE administrators to me or to UHMLG colleagues, number 2-3 per month and most of the queries when resolved are enshrined in the wiki to help others.

  • The concept of an ‘NHS-funded course’ was hard to define.

  • We do not have a way of monitoring the use of resources other than at the local institutional level and so it would be interesting to have a summary view of use by the students who have been registered by their HEIs.

Chris Fowler

University Health & Medical Librarians Group

April 2012


“…We haven’t started registering students yet.  This is largely because a lot of the resources they would like to use, such as Up-to-date, are subscribed to by our local trust.  So they need to register with them to access this material.  I have plans to get them all automatically registered with our local trust early in their course, as they spend much of their hospital placements “


“…I registered 485 users, and 193 have activated their accounts. Here are my comments:

  • Registered all Clinical medicine students in February this year, after working through an initial set-up hiccup. Ric Paul’s help and advice were invaluable.

  • Disappointed to discover that students can’t log in with their Athens credentials to access the BNF via the BNF website, although this is available to all NHS staff in England.

  • Receiving very few enquiries from students about these accounts, hopefully because I sent an explanation to all of them (+ tutors) before they received their activation email.  

  • There has been some confusion about why they can have 2 Athens accounts (one for national resources only, and one for local resources whilst they are on clinical placement). However no complaints have been received about this…”


“…We’ve been unable to get the necessary data from our Student Information System team, and therefore have not set up any accounts…”


“…Athens is working smoothly from my point. I registered the students onto the system at the beginning of the academic year and have had little dealing since. There are no real comments which I can pass on to you, everything is going well and the support I have received from the WIKI team has been prompt and very helpful…”


“…We’ve registered just above 1400 students between September and December. No staff as yet.  It’s not administratively onerous. The dept admin staff provide the info on the template and after a little tinkering with the expiry date format it’s pretty easy to load. I get about 5 emails a week from users who did not activate their accounts in time. It’s a simple task to generate a new activation code. There has only ever been one issue with content and that was fixed within a day or 2. Usage ranges between 150 and 350 accesses per month…”


“…I was a little daunted by the instructions at first and rather tardy in getting started with the task. However with the help of the Faculty administrator who was able to provide me with an excel spreadsheet of all eligible students uploading worked very smoothly in January. I then uploaded the staff a little later. To date uptake has been growing. Students seem a little uncertain as to whether they have mis-remembered their details or not taken up the offer of authenticating their account if they have trouble in getting onto the Athens resources. However I have found the administrator's site quite easy to use so have managed to resolve most problems. I have not done any actual teaching about these resources - I can see a few areas that will need to be covered to get students using resources well - where we offer IP access to same supplier on campus (e.g. EBSCO) there is a need to recommend that on campus users would do better to login to their Athens account at the Athens login page to establish NHS link to these suppliers. I was given the official [University] email addresses for the students based on their enrolment number whereas our IS services encourage them to immediately use the Google format of their email which is name based. This means when dealing with requests for changing passwords I have to remind them which e-mail to use…”


“…Just to update you about the situation for the nursing students at […] University, I can report that it is going well. I had help with the initial spreadsheets from the administrators and found the process of uploading fairly easy. There were a few issues at the start but contacting the support desk at Eduserv was easy and I got prompt replies and things were sorted out. All the information is available on the Wiki or in the guides but until you get familiar with the system, things can be overlooked. It is taking a fair amount of time to sort out the expired activation codes and passwords and keep the list up to date (i.e. deleting students who have withdrawn from the course) but the resources are being used and students appreciate having the access…”


“…Well it’s good news from us. We only have a small nursing cohort and quite a lot of them register through their NHS trust librarians on from the NHS networked PCs they use at work.

The remaining few are a small but very grateful group of non NHS nurse practitioners on nursing courses. Once I have registered them they seem to get on OK at least they don’t often come back with enquiries… I have had a couple of requests for training in using the databases but nothing to indicate any problems with the Athens access…”


“…As far as I can tell we are getting on fine thank you and accounts have been created for the students that should have them via the bulk upload process described in your instructions…”


I’m afraid from [University] it’s a case of we are just in the infancy of administering the scheme. I am currently in the process of writing up information and producing a crib sheet for our users about it and then we will get on the promotional campaign…In terms of setting up the system, the wiki has been very useful indeed and I have found the administrators to be most helpful and quick to respond to enquiries.


“…Here at [University] we have only set up NHS Athens for our ODP students and staff. Only about 50% have actually activated their accounts and use levels don’t seem to be as high as we would have expected (monthly usage reports set up). We first uploaded their data in December 2011.

Have had a couple of problems –

  • Activation code expired before user got around to registering, have had to reset several accounts.

  • We had a couple of members of staff in ODP who were unable to access CINAHL. This was because resources were not allocated to them for some reason. I found the FAQ on the wiki which solved the problem.

Finally just to say that the Wiki is excellent and I find it really useful to remind myself how to do things as uptake of Athens has not been high and problems are intermittent so I don’t get to use the Admin site often enough to become familiar…”


“…My reply would be somewhere towards the “it’s working fine” end of the scale. We have 1396 user accounts currently, of which about 60% have been activated. As administrator I don’t get asked to do very much once the accounts have been created, except to help activate or reactivate accounts for users – so I assume that by and large they are getting access to the resources they need. We are planning to get involved with NICE’s NHS evidence student champions scheme, and have a training day organised next month for six of our students and myself…”


“…We haven’t started yet.  We have decided to hold fire for the time being as most students here struggle to use the resources we already provide and have indicated that it would be confusing to have another set of resources with different access arrangements.  I am trying to build up awareness of the NHS resources with a view to possibly rolling this out to final year students in the future.  At present students who wish to access extra resources do so by requesting logins at the point of need…”


“…At the moment we haven’t started – this is something that we will be looking at over the summer when it’s a little quieter, with a view to implementing from September and the new term…”


“…I’ve set up our students but not many have activated their accounts as yet. We did have an issue with some of them that I reported on earlier, because the upload document also needed a group id to work. I’ve had a few requests recently from students whose accounts had not been activated and needed to be reactivated. Evidence from the outstanding accounts not activated shows lack of take-up amongst the majority, but no figures to hand…”


“…It has been reasonably successful… Set up was easy using the template spreadsheet. I’m checking for users dropping out or joining on a monthly basis and it isn’t an onerous task. Of the 478 student and staff accounts created during Dec 2011/Jan 2012, 295 have not been activated. We suspect that many of our part-time students have an NHS Athens account already because when one user got in touch to say 1) she was wary of receiving an activation request through a third party (Eduserv) and 2) she told us that she had an NHS Athens already through her workplace. Otherwise I assume it is working fine. A couple of users needed to reset their passwords and it can be confusing for them to discover their NHS Athens administrator - information tends to point them towards a regional list of administrators within the NHS and, as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t mention NHS administrators at academic institutions…”


“…For me, it’s all been fine. Actually a very smooth process. I was worried that students would get confused and start thinking that their NHS Athens password was the password they needed to use to access University resources but that doesn’t seem to have happened. It hasn’t resulted in too much extra work – the only thing I have to do now and then is send a new reactivation code because someone didn’t get round to activating their account from the first email I sent. The usage statistics haven’t been huge but the NHS resources have been consistently used since the accounts were created and I have felt surprised by how much they’ve been consistently used. It was very softly launched – I haven’t done any workshops or training or created any guides – just let people get on with using it. It does mean I haven’t had any real feedback and I need to think about how to get that. I like to think that is has raised the profile of NHS resources and hopefully students are making the connection between using databases and journals in practice. The only other slightly negative thing is that there are some NHS programmes that I’ve chosen to not include because they are attended by people already employed by the NHS and thus already eligible for an NHS Athens account and I assumed that they already knew that. They don’t seem to, so there’s a feeling of being “left out” – but any student who comes to me from those programmes, I get them to self-register for an NHS Athens password from the trust. Otherwise the actual process of uploading the students’ details and so on was very easy – the instructions provided were clear and easy to follow. The wiki helped a lot when I was setting up…”


“…Just some quick feedback from [University]...rather than bulk uploading, I was advised by our university Athens administrator to advertise the service so that only those students who were interested in using the service would apply for an account. I've advertised it during workshops and via email throughout the academic year, so far just over half of our 138 nursing students have requested an account. However, our student numbers are going to drastically go up in September, so I may have to reconsider bulk uploading. Feedback from staff and students has been extremely positive and they welcome the ability to search NHS Evidence. On a personal note, I've experienced no problems with setting up accounts…"


“…Here at the University of […] we made the decision for students to register themselves as they wished, rather than a bulk upload done by us; but that I would register any eligible staff who enquired. I have registered only two or three staff members to date I think, and they went through okay…”

Registered HEIs

Bournemouth University

Brunel University

City University

Coventry University

Durham University

Edge Hill University

Imperial College London

King’s College London

Kingston University

Leeds Dental Institute

London Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Middlesex University

Newcastle University

Oxford Brookes University

Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

Royal Holloway University of London

Sheffield Hallam University

St George’s University of London

Staffordshire University

Teesside University

University Campus Suffolk

University College London

University College Plymouth St Mark and St John

University of Bedfordshire

University of Birmingham

University of Bolton

University of Bradford

University of Central Lancashire

University of Chester

University of East Anglia

University of East London

University of Gloucestershire

University of Greenwich

University of Hull

University of Keele

University of Lancaster

University of Leeds

University of Leicester

University of Lincoln

University of Liverpool

University of Nottingham

University of Oxford

University of Plymouth

University of Portsmouth

University of Reading

University of Salford

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of Sunderland

University of the West of England, Bristol

University of West London

University of York

York St John University

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