Troubleshooting Electronic Resources Access Problems

Common problems reported through various channels, including E-Resource Access Help (, and their solutions are documented here.

These messages are generated from the SFX UMLinks menu when a user chooses to report that a menu link is not working for them. The user has the option of requesting a response. If a user does not request a response, you do not have to troubleshoot the problem because the SFX maintenance team also monitors these messages for problems.

To troubleshoot a broken link report:

  • Test the Target URL link. If you are able to get to a page where the full-text of the article is available, download a PDF of it and copy a direct permanent link, with the proxy prefix (, and send these to the user. Fairly often the full-text is available, but for some reason the user can't find it on the landing page. Confirm that the user is a UMass community member before sending them full-text.
  • If the Target URL link does not work, look at the OpenURL and pull out the journal title, volume/issue/year, article author and article title. See if you can navigate to the article starting from the Journals A-Z list. If you can navigate to the article, send the user the article URL and PDF. If you cannot get to the article, direct the user to our ILL service.
  • Sometimes the OpenURL only contains a PubMed ID, which is at the end of a string like “sid=Entrez%3APubMed&id=pmid%3A28984760”. To find the citation for this, go to Pubmed and put the PubMed ID # - everything after the capital A - in the search box, e.g. “28984760”. This will give you the citation from which to trace journal and article using the Journals A-Z list.
  • Alternatively, you can attach the prefix, “” at the beginning of the 'OpenURL:' text, beginning with whatever is after the colon, such as “genre…” in the example below, then 'search' in Firefox, etc. This will create a URL for the SFX menu, complete with citation information.
  • If the full-text of an article is not available, provide the user with a link to our ILL/Document Delivery service,, and suggest that they request the article.

User can't connect to a specific resource

This is a commonly reported problem, and the potential reasons for it are many. The following is a checklist:

  • Check to see if you can connect to the resource. Try different browsers and try from an Opera browser with VPN (Virtual Private Network) set up to mimic an off-campus computer.
  • If you can connect to the resource from both on and off-campus, confirm that the user is going through the Libraries' website, using an EZProxy bookmarklet, or using a link that has our proxy prefix,, embedded in it. Suggest that the user clear their browser's cache and cookies. Instructions for doing this are available from UMass IT and the UMass Office of A&F Administrative Systems.
  • If you cannot connect to the resource from off-campus, check the EZProxy configuration stanza for the resource and check with the resource provider to determine if they've blocked our EZProxy IP access (
  • If you get an error message from on campus and have cleared your browser cache and cookies, report problem to resource provider.

User's NetID doesn't work

If a user reports that they've tried to login to the Libraries, or a specific resource, from off-campus, but their NetID isn't recognized, refer them to IT Support for help with their NetID. Libraries staff do not have access to NetID accounts.

Resource isn't recognized by EZProxy and user can't connect

The user sees a message:

   To allow <URL> to be used in a starting point URL, your EZproxy administrator must first authorize 
   the hostname of this URL in the config.txt file.
   Within this database's section of config.txt, either the following 
   line must be added:
   Host <URL>
   or, alternatively, a RedirectSafe for this host or domain may be
   After editing config.txt, the EZproxy server must be restarted to make 
   changes take effect.

In these cases, the EZProxy configuration file must be updated with a stanza for the resource. Many resource stanzas are available from this OCLC support page. OCLC provides additional information about the configuration file.

Adobe PDF version of e-book or document doesn't display

When you select the PDF version of an e-book on the CRC netBASE platform, e.g. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and it opens in your browser window, you may only see the Table of Contents but no page content. Simililarly, sometimes PDFs linked from ProQuest databases (ProQuest Congressional), do not open.

  • If you're using Internet Explorer, open Acrobat Reader. Click Edit > Preference > Select Internet > Uncheck “Open PDF in browser.”
  • If you're using Firefox, go to Tools > Options > Applications > Category - Adobe Acrobat Document > and select the version of Acrobat Reader you're using.

Response Best Practices

  • This section is out of date as of the 6/10/19 Migration to LibAnswers for DBHelp
  • See new dbhelps in your personal email account, but respond to them from the dbhelpm account. This ensures the thread is maintained in a central account, rather than tucked away in a personal account. If a thread goes on over several days and between different people covering dbhelpm, the context and history are available to all.
  • When responding to a message from dbhelpm, copy so all on list can see that message has been responded to from their personal accounts.
  • When responding to a dbhelp, look up the person's NetID/email and respond to them by name. In Outlook you can do this by selecting the “To” button, scrolling down and choosing UMass Amherst Directory, and pasting the NetID in the search field.
  • Keep templates of common responses in the dbhelpm drafts folder and copy the text into response messages. Any one of us can create and save new ones, or use and modify the existing ones for specific responses.
  • When responding with a link to a subscription or acquired resource, provide the most persistent link available. If the resource is available in the website Collections and Databases directory, provide the website link to that resource, e.g.
  • When responding with a link to the resources native interface, prepend the proxy prefix ( so on and off-campus users can get to the resource, e.g. Chemical Communications from the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • After you've responded to a dbhelp, add an entry in Libanalytics

Primary contact: Christine Turner

known_issues_with_accessing_e-resources.txt · Last modified: 2019/06/10 08:16 by jmulvaney Creative Commons License Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0