Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) main page.

Note for navigation with support technologies: in this page you find 3 main elements: search engine (shortcut key 1); the highlights at the main area of the page (shortcut key 2) e main menu (shortcut key 3).

Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
Home  > e-Science  > Projects  > b-on Knowledge Library Online

b-on Knowledge Library Online

The Portuguese b-on Knowledge Library Online provides permanent unlimited access to full texts of more than 16,750 international academic publications from 16 publishers to research and higher educational institutions, through subscriptions with these publishers which have been negotiated at a national level.

Link to  b-on: Online Knowledge Library

In 2007, the number of articles downloaded by users of this library was 4.2 million, while in 2006 it had been 3.6 million, 3.4 million in 2005, and 2.1 million in 2004, figures which show a very high usage rate.

This library was initially conceived in 1999, at a time when the Community Support Framework was known as “The National Science and Technology Networked Library”. In 2000 the Science and Technology Observatory (OCT) carried out an exhaustive survey of subscriptions to academic journals taken out by all the Portuguese academic institutions in order to obtain information for its negotiations with the publishers. In 2001 the important academic bibliographical tool the Web of Knowledge, from the Philadelphia Institute for Scientific Information, was made available, which allowed access to information regarding titles, summaries and references and citations of around 8,500 journals, including entries from 1945 onwards. The OCT also started negotiating with the main publishers in 2001, and access to the full texts of 3,500 publications from 6 publishers was established in 2004.

The b-on Knowledge Library Online today enables the national scientific and technological community, namely every research and higher educational institution in the country, to have easy access to the main international academic publications, thus breaking down a barrier which had previously made access to academic literature difficult.

The coordination, public financing and monitoring of the b-on Knowledge Library Online is ensured by Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) and the corresponding technical user support infrastructure, and commercial relations with the publishers, is managed by the FCCN – Foundation for National Scientific Computation (site in Portuguese).

Action by UMIC led to a major alteration in the financing model and availability of b-on in 2006, the year in which it undertook new contractual negotiations with the international publishers for the 2007-2009 period. The previous model had been based on a division of costs within the "consortium" of public and private user institutions, mainly universities, in accordance with criteria relating to the size of these institutions. However, a little more than half of the total costs for the 2004-2006 period had been guaranteed by the ERDF (FEDER) Community Support Framework III, through the Operational Programme for the Knowledge Society (POSC), which limited the amount each institution paid during this period.

  • When contribution costs more than doubled at the outset of 2008, following the end of community support funds and, also, with the annual increase in the cost of subscriptions being significantly more than inflation, many public higher educational institutions and research bodies could not meet the costs and had organisational difficulties in finding the funds necessary to do so.
  • Due to the need to meet these high costs within the budgets of higher educational institutions, there was a degree of fragmentation in the titles made available, with many institutions changing their subscription scheme to one which involved only receiving a subset of the total material available, which was more directly related to their major research areas, so as to reduce the cost of their financial contributions (certain Engineering and Technological institutions sought to subscribe to a subset which did not include basic sciences and social and human sciences, whereas certain Social and Human Science institutions sought to remove their subscriptions to basic sciences, health sciences, engineering and technological journals, and certain Health Science institutions sought to only take out health and life science subscriptions). This trend was rather negative in nature for research activities, by restricting access to scientific literature for researchers in minority areas within a given institution and limiting the facilities for interdisciplinary research, whilst national costs were not significantly altered despite being differently distributed amongst the institutions.
  • The overwhelming majority of the user institutions are state-run higher educational institutions (amounting to more that 90% of total costs), such that the liberal idea of these users undertaking part of the subscription costs did not make sense in the present case given that: (1) there was no aim of moderating the use of these resources, but rather the opposite; (2) the financing of state-run higher educational bodies stems from central public funds so that partaking in a "consortium” did not result in any economies for public resources; (3) public costs running the model adopted in 2004 were greater due to the administrative work which had been created in the various user institutions and even more so at FCCN where the work involved in collecting the costs of institutional contributions was high and required allocating human resources throughout the whole year. That is, the administrative costs were greater for this pseudo-liberal model than for a model in which public financing was centrally allocated.
  • Higher educational establishments from the polytechnical sector argued for an alteration in the calculation allocating total costs to the various institutions since it considered that the weighting based on the number of students enrolled in institutions was prejudicial to teaching within polytechnics given the ratio between researchers and students as well as the fact that the proportion of postgraduate students within these institutions was much lower than that of universities.
  • The model was complex and generated fragmentation and conflicts within the “consortium” of users without any overall economic advantage, but rather the contrary with these added costs.

The new financing model, which has been operating since 2007, involves central public financing of costs allocated to state-run institutions, coming out of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) budget, at a level of 14 million Euros in 2008, when still being jointly financed by the ERDF from the POSC.

The financing model became at the same time one of absolute simplicity whilst eliminating the problems specified above. From one day to the next, the fragmentary trend had disappeared, public administrative costs for collecting revenue had been reduced, and the tendency towards conflict with the users "consortium" had disappeared. An additional benefit, achieved virtually without increasing the costs to the country, was ensuring universal access to the complete collection of the b-on Knowledge Library Online to all higher educational public bodies, and all State Laboratories and research units positively rated by the international evaluation system of the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), when previously some state-run polytechnical institutions, State Laboratories and research units with a positive FCT rating had not had access to this library.

A further organisation aspect which was resolved by UMIC in 2007 was unifying the management of the b-on Knowledge Library Online with the Web of Knowledge, which until that date had been managed by the Observatory for Science, Technology and Higher Education (OCTES), with both coming under the scope of FCCN and the responsibility and financing of Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), with the resulting administrative and economic advantages.

On 22 July 2009, the FCCN – Foundation for National Scientific Computation made a new b-on portal available. It is more user-friendly and for the first time meets 100% of the accessibility guidelines for citizens with special needs set by the W3C – World Wide Web Consortium (level AAA of the WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines on Web 1.0 of the WAI – Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C). In this way, the new b-on portal joins the limited number of medium or large Internet sites that fully satisfy the W3C accessibility guidelines, as is the case of the website of The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), which achieved this a year and a half ago.

The general access area of the b-on portal now has a specific section for each user type, namely students, teachers, researchers, healthcare professionals and librarians. The help section has been improved and fleshed out with a raft of e-learning modules and lastly there is a user comment and suggestions section. The site provides librarians with details on the member institution, additional information on communication and dissemination, training, different resources and usage data, all within a restricted access area. The b-on portal was developed by the FCCN – Foundation for National Scientific Computation’s b-on team and by a leading Portuguese company in this field. The project has also been supported by external actors who have participated in user tests. The new portal was certified for accessibility by The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) and efforts to improve accessibility throughout the development phase were supported by the UMIC Access Group. As well as operating on the traditional IPv4 protocol, this portal is now compatible with the IPv6 protocol developed to overcome the Internet address limits that will be exhausted in a few years with the IPv4 protocol.

The b-on: Online Knowledge Library has become a crucial instrument and is used virtually every day by the Portuguese scientific and academic community, even unwittingly, as merely searching on Google on computers installed in scientific and higher education institutions with automatic access to b-on may in turn lead to b-on content that would not otherwise be available, were it not for the national subscription for the content of this library that is provided by the FCCN and funded by UMIC (co-financed by POSC until June 2009). This enables free use in state scientific and higher education institutions and member institutions from the private higher education sector. With b-on, the Portuguese scientific and academic community has one of the most wide-ranging and easiest-to-use online scientific library services in the world, seeing as how the system is provided at the national level and can be used free of charge from any computer installed on the networks of scientific and higher education institutions.

The b-on Knowledge Library Online is available at (site in Portuguese) and further information about the project can be obtained from this site.

Last updated ( 24/10/2011 )