Stephanie Orphan

Stephanie Orphan

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Stephanie Orphan is the Director of Content Preservation at Portico


 Fifteen years ago, when Portico was in its early stages, we answered a call from the community to ensure that the electronic journals libraries were investing in were protected for the long term. At the time, the primary concern was ensuring that licensed content, often from the very large commercial publishers, was properly preserved with mechanisms in place to ensure future long-term access for researchers, as well as near-term post-cancellation access where possible.

During the first five years in which Portico signed publishers (2005-2010), we made great progress, signing 119 journal publishers, including all of the very large commercial publishers as well as many medium-sized publishers, university presses, and a couple large open access (OA) publishers. We also successfully expanded our services to include preservation for e-books and digitized primary source collections (the latter through our d-collections preservation service).

Over the course of the next 10 years, little by little, the trajectory of Portico’s growth began to change. The range of publishers expanded to include more small publishers (those with five or fewer journal titles) and fully OA publishers---including many library publishers and independent scholar-led journals. While we continued to work with publishers who had developed their own sophisticated platforms or who were using commercial hosting platforms, increasingly we began working with publishers self-hosting through an instance of OJS (Open Journal Systems), WordPress, or web sites.

The scholarly publishing landscape was evolving, and Portico evolved with it. In early 2014, we had our first ever Open Access trigger event--something that had not been contemplated when the Portico service was being developed. Since that time, we have provided access to 113 additional OA journals through trigger events. In order to accommodate the need to ensure that OA content remains OA forever, we modified our original agreements, which had limited access to all Portico triggers to the participating libraries. Over the years, publishers we had signed in the early days who originally only offered journals via subscription or books for purchase began introducing OA titles to their portfolios. In addition to meeting the needs of fully OA publishers, we needed to meet our traditional publishers where they were.

Currently, Portico is preserving content from 577 journal publishers with 309 of them publishing OA content. Scores of the 326 book publishers that we work worth are publishing OA books. Across all of our services, we are preserving content from 833 publishers from around the world (at last count 74 countries). These are encouraging numbers, particularly in light of the fact that over the last 6 years, we’ve been adding content from 40 to 50 publishers each year. The majority of them are very small OA publishers, which many would deem to be the most at risk of no longer being able to support their content in the future. As with everything, there is more work to be done. Despite the growth through Portico and other preservation services in the amount of scholarly content being preserved, there is still much content being hosted without safeguards in place, and recent studies have identified many journals that are already no longer available online.

Portico’s work, and the work of the larger preservation community, is not over by a long shot. Portico will continue to seek out new ways to meet its mission and the needs of the community. We are at the beginning of an effort to better understand how to identify content we are preserving that we may need to provide access to because it is no longer hosted online, and also investigating ways in which we might more easily identify and preserve the most at-risk OA content. These activities will complement, but not replace, the necessary work we have always engaged in to allow libraries to rest easy knowing that their investment in subscriptions and purchased content is being protected. As the community invests in new modes of scholarship and the nature of institutional investment in scholarship evolves, we must evolve as well.


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