This support post outlines the onboarding process for institutions subscribing to the Institutional Toolkit.
1. Nominate an account to be the Institutional Account
To get things started, you will need to nominate a registered Lens account which will become the Institutional Account. This can be an existing account of an individual, but assuming the account might be managed by different people, we recommend creating a new account using a shared email that Library, Research Administration or Tech Transfer staff who will administer the account can access.
Once you nominate the registered account that you want to use, please let us know the email address associated with that account and we will convert it into an Institutional Account.
Optional: You can also provide the IP address range(s) for your institution, these will be added to a whitelist of IP addresses to prevent our security provider from detecting users as bots.
2. Institutional Account activation
The nominated account will be converted to an Institutional Account and the ITK subscription and ITK API plans will be activated on the account. You will receive email notification that your subscription has been activated. The Institutional account provides access to the Institutional Work Area and tools including:
Patent and Scholarly API access
The Institutional Toolkit includes high-volume ITK API Plans for scholarly works and patents, which are intended for use by the institution, for example the University Library or Research Office, for integrating and embedding Lens content into institutional repositories and other institutional applications. The following ITK API plans will be activated on the Institutional account:
|Scholarly ITK API Plan||Patent ITK API Plan|
|50,000 requests per month||20,000 requests per month|
|1,000 records per request||500 records per request|
|20 requests per minute||10 requests per minute|
All Institutional Users (e.g. staff or students of the subscribing institution) can also access the Institutional User API Plans, providing their own API plan with rates and quotas which are separate from the ITK API Plans, to explore and analyse the data or develop community tools and apps. Institutional User API plans will be active for the duration of the ITK subscription. The API plan rates and volumes include:
|Scholarly Institutional User API Plan||Patent Institutional User API Plan|
|5,000 requests per month||5,000 requests per month|
|500 records per request||100 records per request|
|10 requests per minute||10 requests per minute|
Institutional accounts include larger default collection limits (up to 100K records), editable images, rich text descriptions (using markdown), and embeddable iframe widgets. Institutional subscribers can also create Attested Portfolios; which are authoritative, branded collections of your institutional work products including scholarly works and patents. An attested collection is an institutional collection to which an institution formally attests to having an affiliation with the works/patents in that collection.
When attested on the Lens.org platform, these collections can be shared for internal management or for external promotion of the institution’s scholarship, intellectual property and other capabilities. The attested portfolios come with additional customisation and branding options including editable images, rich text descriptions (using markdown), and embeddable iframe widgets
Institutional subscribers also receive access to the Lens Report Builder, a new prototype facility for creating evidence-based, open, sharable and reusable reports linked to real Lens data and analytics.
3. Institutional API Access
You can create and manage API tokens from the subscription tab in the account settings. Please make sure to take note of the token and store it in a safe place as it is only displayed once for security purposes.
For any questions, please check the API documentation, or submit API issues on the GitHub issue tracker, or email your questions directly to email@example.com. Additional help resources can be found in the Support Center & Knowledge Base.
4. API Access for Institutional Users
Any institutional users with a registered Lens account and using a valid email address from the institution’s nominated email domain (e.g.
@mit.edu) can request Institutional User API Access from the API & Data page. They will then be assigned the Institutional User API plan, which will remain active for the period of the ITK subscription.
In addition, functionality for administrators of institutional accounts to add and manage Institutional users in bulk is currently in development. However, in the short term, a list of institutional users’ email addresses (which they have associated with their registered Lens account) can be provided and the Institutional User API plans will be activated on their accounts.
5. Accessing Bulk Data
Your ITK subscription from The Lens may include bulk data for the full corpus of patent and scholarly works. Bulk data is presently provided via a download link from an AWS S3 bucket, which typically expires in 7 days. Please take action to download the files at your earliest convenience.
Scholarly Works bulk data is ~160GB compressed and over 800GB uncompressed (>248M records), and the Patent bulk data is ~380GB compressed and over 900GB uncompressed (>138M records). When downloading the bulk data files, we recommend making sure that the resume download option is enabled in case the download gets interrupted. If you have an AWS instance, you can use
wget to download the data. For example, on your AWS instance you can run
wget -c [DOWNLOAD_URL].
6. Making the most of your Institutional Toolkit
Welcome to your Lens Institutional Toolkit (ITK)! We value your use of The Lens, your subscription helps to support inclusive and equitable access to innovation knowledge. Please find some guidelines below to help you get started and make the most of your new Institutional Account.
Onboard Your Institutional Users
Invite your institutional users to register for an account, ensuring they use their official institutional email address when creating their account, e.g.
@mit.edu, so they can start exploring The Lens and becoming familiar with the platform and the tools and features included with an account.
The Lens also provides full-text linkouts using Libkey and WorldCat Registry, so if your institution is a Libkey subscriber or you have configured your institution’s WorldCat registry profile, it may be worth highlighting these to staff and students.
Start Populating Your Work Area
Your Institutional Work Area is the management facility for all your saved searches and alerts, collections, analysis dashboards, reports, and other tools. Start populating the Work Area by saving searches, setting up alerts and creating collections. Your search history will automatically appear in the Work Area search history tab. You can choose to share this information or keep it private. We invite you to start creating collections that will support Lens Reports and Institutional Profiles (coming soon).
Create Attested Collections
Create your official, branded collections of your institution’s work products, both scholarly works and patents. For scholarly works search for your institution’s name (e.g. MIT Scholarly Works) , and for patents search the applicants and owners (e.g. MIT Patents) and save the results to create a Dynamic Collection that is automatically updated with new results matching your search. Collections are an integral part of the Lens workflow and the major component for analysing, managing and sharing knowledge. Collections provide improved transparency and the ability to create and promote authoritative, branded institutional work products, both scholarship and inventions.
Support Center & Knowledge Base
The Lens Support Center & Knowledge Base provides support posts, videos and tutorials for using the Lens. You can access and explore support material and discover the features Lens.org has to offer from the Support Center or the Support Sidebar on the Lens by searching from within the sidebar. Support search results include a pop-out modal that features the support post video if one is available, allowing you to quickly find and view support content without leaving the Lens. We are continually adding new support material, videos, tutorials and use cases to help you make the most of The Lens tools and features and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a collection of questions and answers received from institutions interested in subscribing to the ITK to provide further information for interested institutions. Additional FAQs are available on the ITK FAQ page. Please contact us if you have any other questions about the ITK.
Can registration/access be limited by IP address?
This is something we have on the ITK roadmap as part of the Link Resolver Integration. Currently access is account based and registration is not limited by IP address. IP-based authentication is something we have considered for the ITK roadmap, and we welcome your feedback on your preferred approach.
Can you give some examples of how other universities use the ITK?
- Who are the institutional account administrators?
Most interest in ITKs comes from the university library. We have seen them register a generic account on Lens.org that can be shareable.
- How do they administer their institutional account?
ITKs were only launched earlier this year (2021). The ITK dashboard for ITK subscribers to edit and manage themselves has not been released yet.
- Do they only assign institutional users to limited people or to all staff?
All members of the community are eligible to be institutional users, including staff, faculty, and students.
Can students be institutional users as well as staff?
Yes, seat licenses for students are also included with the public-good ITK.
It is possible to have staff and students that already have Lens accounts and are not institutional users, will they enjoy the extra privileges that an institutional user has?
Correct, institutions will have staff and students with existing Lens accounts. These users can keep their accounts, which will be able to be converted to institutional user accounts by inviting the users to become institutional users.
Can we use the Lens database for teaching and training to our alumni, business partners, etc. (not just to our own staff and students)?
Yes, you are welcome to train anyone on the use of The Lens (even as a paid training service). If the trainee continues to use The Lens, they will need to get permission appropriate for their use. For example, if you train a business partner who wants to use Lens.org for commercial purposes, they will need to get a commercial license to do so. This applies whether the trainee is an alumni or not.
Who will most likely benefit from an ITK subscription?
There are many types of use cases across different institutional units/functions that are likely to benefit from an ITK subscription, these include:
Library use cases
There are a number of use cases relevant to library staff and the functions they perform including:
- Support your community with discovery, analytics and metrics tools
- Track institutional Open Access publishing trends
- Staff profile directory/Track staff research output and patent activity
- Integrate content into Institutional repositories
- Find and harvest OA versions from other repositories
- Full text discovery (through LibKey, WorldCat links)
- Assess subscriptions – where (journals/publishers) are your staff publishing?
- Use Lens to improve ORCID compliance
- And many more
Research use cases
Researchers who need high-volume scholarly or patent API access for research analyses, systematic reviews, data mining, etc. will benefit from an ITK. Other research use cases include literature reviews research intelligence, and innovation landscape assessment.
Administrative use case
An ITK also enables a number of administrative use cases at institutions, including:
- Research Administration:
Research office staff and administrators can use Lens for research performance assessment or identifying potential partners and collaboration opportunities.
- Research Commercialisation:
Those working in the Tech Transfer office on research commercialisation for competitive intel, prior art searches, identifying potential partners etc.
Teachers and lecturers who use Lens for classroom training.
Those involved in marketing and publicity for the institution can use Lens to showcase the institution’s research and IP assets, or use data journalism to highlight and promote the impact of the institution’s research.
How should we introduce The Lens to our institution’s community?
The Lens encourages users to explore the full range of resources available in the Institutional Toolkit and leverage the advantages of using open data. The University of Cambridge announced the adoption of The Lens like this: https://ejournalscambridge.wordpress.com/2022/03/18/the-lens-comes-to-the-university-of-cambridge/
We are assembling LibGuides where we find those to share best practices training on Lens.org.
Do you have a curated list of training materials that we can use?
- Support Center and Knowledge Base: https://support.lens.org/
- Webinars: https://support.lens.org/article-categories/webinars/
- External Posts and Coverage https://support.lens.org/knowledge-base/external-posts-and-coverage/
- Community Apps and Data: https://www.lens.org/lens/labs/datafacilities
Can the institutional account be used by all staff and students or is it intended for the Library to use as an administrative account?
The institutional account is intended to be an administrative account. It is recommended that the account be used only by the Library or administrative unit responsible for managing the Institutional Toolkit subscription.
What links should we send to our users?
- Registration: https://www.lens.org/lens/user/registration
- API Access: https://www.lens.org/lens/user/subscriptions (N.B. Users need to mention they are from the subscribing institution)
- Patent search and analysis: https://www.lens.org/lens/search/patent/structured
- Scholar search and analysis: https://www.lens.org/lens/search/scholar/structured
- Lens Profiles: https://www.lens.org/lens/profiles
- PatSeq: https://www.lens.org/lens/bio
- Support: https://support.lens.org/
How can I check API usage?
You can check the API usage stats anytime using the usage endpoints. The stats shown in the endpoint are applicable for the current period (i.e. month). Checking the usage stats just before the usage reset date will give you the usage for the current period.
- Scholarly API usage endpoint:
- Patent API usage endpoint:
What does the reset date mean?
The usage stats reset on this date. The usage endpoint allows you to check your remaining requests quota each month. We can also provide cumulative usage stats before the end of the one-year subscription.
Do I need to create a new token each time I check API usage?
No, you can use the same token. N.B. tokens expire after one year and you will receive a reminder email to create a new token.