Scholars Portal Audit Report 2013

Scholars Portal: Detailed Audit Findings

CRL assessed the Scholars Portal e-journals database repository on each of the three categories of criteria specified in TRAC and has assigned a level of certification for each. The numeric rating (below) is based on a scale of 1 through 5, with 5 being the highest level, and 1 being the minimum certifiable level. (The minimal certification rating of 1 is assigned in instances where a repository has inconsistencies or deficiencies in areas that might lead to minor defects of a systemic or pervasive nature, but where no major flaws are evident.)

TRAC Category



Organizational Infrastructure



Digital Object Management



Technologies, Technical Infrastructure, Security







On the basis of the audit, CRL found the Scholars Portal e-journals archive to be in compliance with the TRAC criteria. Scholars Portal has met all TRAC requirements at this time. CRL found that Scholars Portal’s management of journal content complied with the 84 applicable individual criteria in the three primary areas assessed by TRAC: administration, object management and technical systems. Notable positive findings of the audit are as follows.

TRAC Section A: Organizational Infrastructure

Succession Planning [A1.2] Scholars Portal has an appropriate, formal succession plan in place for its e-journals archive. One of the important features of this plan is that OCUL institutions have collective ownership and rights to access and preserve Scholar’s Portal content in perpetuity. Collective ownership ensures that should the Scholar’s Portal repository cease to operate or OCUL substantially change its scope, the content may be moved and preserved elsewhere without restriction. It also means that no further permissions or licenses must be sought before access to and preservation of the content can be provided.

Procedural Accountability and Policy Framework (Documentation) [A3] Scholars Portal has created a detailed, transparent framework of policies and procedures that are fully consistent with the repository’s stated preservation strategies. It has made this material publicly available on the web at The documentation clearly discloses the benefits and preservation services of the repository in a way that can serve as a model for other repositories. The disclosures also demonstrate the commitment of Scholars Portal management to transparency and to accountability to its stakeholder community.

TRAC Section B: Digital Object Management

Preservation Planning [B.3] Scholars Portal has explained and documented in detail its preservation planning in three key documents: Preservation Strategic Plan, Preservation Implementation Plan, and Preservation Action Plan - Journals, and in its on-going Risk Analysis and Management Strategies document. Scholars Portal is committed to reviewing its preservation policies every two years, as indicated in its Review Cycle for Documentation Policy.

Monitoring Integrity of Archival Objects [B4.4] Scholars Portal checks all existing Archive Ingest Packages (AIPs) for fixity. At the time of ingest three checksums are created for each digital object. Checksum tests are recorded in the object’s metadata using PREMIS event entities and are publicly reported in a “TDR Status” view for each journal article.

Information Management [B.5] Scholars Portal has a robust and useful user interface for information discovery that is based on well managed, rich descriptive information stored in the e-journals archive. Members of the repository staff regularly seek feedback on user experiences.

Access Management [B.6] Scholars Portal access logs are regularly monitored for errors, unauthorized or unusual activity, and for the successful completion of requests. Staff members respond to problems by creating problem reports in the JIRA issue tracking system.

TRAC Section C: Technical Infrastructure, Security

Technical Infrastructure and Risk Management [C.1] Scholars Portal maintains its own hardware data center in a secure facility with closely monitored and controlled access. The center is well designed and maintained, well-organized, and appropriately cooled and climate-controlled.

Backups and Disaster Recovery [C 1.2] The repository has adequate backups of its data to preserve the contents of the archive and an adequate Disaster Recovery Plan to deploy those backups to bring all archived content back online after a catastrophic event within a timeframe acceptable to the repository’s designated community. 

It is important to note that Scholars Portal does not, however, have an online “mirror site.” It operates out of a single data center in Toronto. During the audit, the CRL Certification Advisory Panel expressed the concern that lack of a mirror site means that, in the event of a disaster Scholars Portal could take weeks or longer to restore the e-journal archive -- resulting in a significant interruption in service. Scholars Portal was able to confirm that its designated user community understands and accepts this situation.

The OCUL Executive Committee, representing that community, provided CRL the following statement:

In the view of this committee, Scholars Portal’s current recovery planning and service levels fulfill the needs of the OCUL community. While we recognize that an unplanned interruption of service would be an inconvenience to OCUL’s user communities, the long-term preservation of the locally loaded materials is of highest importance and as long as the material can be recovered and its integrity and authenticity re-established, the needs of the Designated Community are being met.

Scholars Portal acknowledges that implementation of an online mirror site would provide an additional layer of security and ensure continuous service in the event of a disaster and that mirroring would provide online redundancy of archival storage, data management, and dissemination systems. Consequently, at the time of this report Scholars Portal and its administrators, the Ontario Council of University Libraries, were endeavoring to engage another entity to take on the role of a mirror site and CRL encourages them to continue this activity. 

Disaster Recovery Plan [C3.4] This TRAC metric requires that a repository have suitable written disaster preparedness and recovery plan(s), including at least one off-site backup of all preserved information together with an off-site copy of the recovery plan(s). Scholars Portal has a detailed, written Disaster Recovery plan based on working, tested procedures. In addition they have contracted with an outside vendor to house a copy of their backup. Copies of the disaster plan are also maintained offsite, should the University of Toronto site itself become inaccessible.