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Your gateway to a wide range of online information resources

Passwords and troubleshooting

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  3. Passwords and troubleshooting

Registered OU students and staff can access the subscription-based online library resources using their OU computer username (OUCU) and password. It’s best to access resources through the Library website to make sure that you are recognised as an Open University user.

You don’t require an Athens username and password as all resources are available using your OUCU.

Technical Problems

If you are experiencing technical difficulties using Library resources ​you can try clearing your web browser's cache in the first instance. You can find help and guidance online for clearing your cache.

If this does not resolve your issue, please contact the Library Helpdesk. It is helpful to take a screenshot of the problem or make a note of the error message.

Getting to online resources

To successfully access resources, we suggest that you always use the Open University Library website, or links from your module websites, as your starting point.

To check if the OU subscribes to a particular journal article, and access it if we do, follow the instructions at Getting to a particular journal article.

Normally you will only be asked for Athens details if you try to access eresources that the OU does not subscribe to, or you try to go to them in a way that does not allow you to be recognised as an OU user e.g. from a Google search. 'I am having problems accessing a resource via Athens' will guide you through how to log-in to a subscribed eresource using your OUCU via the Athens 'Alternative login' link. If you want to go to OU eresources via a search engine, you can Access eresources using Google Scholar.

If we subscribe to the journal you are trying to access, and you are still being asked for an Athens password after logging in via Athens e.g. the alternative login route, there may be a technical problem with the resource. In this instance please get in touch with the Library helpdesk, giving the details of the problem (which resource you are trying to get into and any error message you are receiving). 


Specific passwords

There are few Library resources that still require the use of individual usernames and passwords for access. These are listed on the specific passwords page.

What do I do if my passwords aren't working?

If you are an OU student or an Associate Lecturer contact the OU Computing Helpdesk at +44 (0) 1908 653972 or use the web form in the Computing Guide.

If you are a member of OU central or regional staff or a postgraduate research student contact the IT Helpdesk at +44 (0) 1908 654321 or use the AskIT self-service system to log an enquiry with them.

Please quote your student number (Personal Identifier) or staff number to enable helpdesk staff to deal with your query as quickly as possible.

How long will my passwords stay valid?

  • Undergraduate and taught postgraduate student passwords are valid from one month prior to the module start date to three months after the module end date.
  • Continuing students are entitled to access online library resources once you have registered and paid for your next module, as long as you are actively studying.
  • Postgraduate research student passwords remain valid until the date you submit your thesis.
  • Staff and associate lecturer passwords remain valid as long as you are employed or contracted by the OU.

If you are unable to access online library resources within these timeframes please contact the Library Helpdesk.

There is a wide range of freely available information sources that you may find useful after your study is completed.

Registering with individual databases

Some databases, such as ScienceDirect and Scopus, make registration compulsory the first time you visit. Others, such as EBSCO and Proquest, offer registration as an optional extra. Registering your personal details in this way creates a personal account and gives you access to additional services: for example you can save articles in folders in between visits, create alerts, and save searches for future use.

If you decide to create a personal account within a database you should continue to access the database in the usual way, following links from the OU library website, and entering your Open University computer username and password whenever prompted. Once you are in the database, you can then sign in to your personal account using the username and password you set up when you registered.

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