COUNTER - Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Resources
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Code of Practice

 

Release 1: December 2002

Abstract
COUNTER has been developed to provide a single, international, extendible Code of Practice that allows the usage of online information products and services to be measured in a credible, consistent and compatible way using vendor-generated data. The COUNTER Code of Practice specifies: the data elements to be measured definitions of these data elements; usage report content, format, frequency and methods of delivery; protocols for combining usage reports from direct use and from use via intermediaries. The Code of Practice also provides guidelines for data processing by vendors and auditing protocols. In response to librarian demand, Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice focuses on the usage of journals and databases, the products that account for the largest share of most libraries' materials budgets. Future releases of the Code of Practice will extend the scope of COUNTER, not only to other content types, but also to more detailed levels of reporting for each content type.

Copyright: Project COUNTER
All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. For non-commercial purposes only this publication may be reproduced and transmitted by any means without prior permission in writing from COUNTER. All queries regarding commercial reproduction or distribution should be addressed to the Project Director, Dr Peter T Shepherd (pshepherd@projectCounter.org)

 

COUNTER Code of Practice
Release 1 (December 2002)
CONTENTS

  1. Foreword
  2. General information
  3. Definitions of terms used
  4. Usage reports
  5. Data processing
  6. Auditing
  7. Compliance
  8. References to other standards, protocols and codes of practice
  9. Governance of COUNTER
  10. Maintenance and development of the COUNTER Code of Practice

Appendices
Note: Sections 3, 4 and 5 contain the core information required for implementation of the COUNTER Code of Practice.

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1. Foreword
COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources) was formally established in March 2002. Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice was launched in December 2002. COUNTER serves librarians, vendors and intermediaries by facilitating the recording and exchange of online usage statistics. The COUNTER Code of Practice provides guidance on data elements to be measured, definitions of these data elements, output report content and format, as well as on data processing and auditing. To have their usage statistics and reports designated 'COUNTER-compliant' vendors must provide usage statistics that conform to the Code of Practice.

COUNTER is widely supported by the international community of librarians, publishers and intermediaries, as well as by their professional bodies. This Code of Practice has been developed with the active participation of representatives of all these groups, who are represented on the Executive Committee as well as on the International Advisory Board of COUNTER (See Appendix B).

The following organizations support COUNTER:

  • AAP, Association of American Publishers
  • ALPSP, The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers
  • ARL, Association of Research Libraries
  • ASA, Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
  • BIC/EDItEUR
  • JISC, Joint Information Systems Committee
  • NCLIS, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
  • NISO, National Information Standards Organization
  • PA, The Publishers Association
  • STM, International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers
  • UKSG, United Kingdom Serials Group

COUNTER is deeply grateful to its Founding Sponsors, listed below, whose generous financial contributions have enabled this project to commence its work. We salute their vision, commitment and support.

  • AAP/PSP, Association of American Publishers, Professional and Society Publishing Division
  • ALPSP, The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers
  • ARL, Association of Research Libraries
  • ASA, Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
  • Blackwell Publishing
  • EBSCO
  • Elsevier Science
  • Ingenta
  • Institute of Physics Publishing
  • JISC, Joint Information Systems Committee
  • Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • Oxford University Press
  • PA, The Publishers Association
  • ProQuest
  • STM, International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers
  • Taylor & Francis Group
  • UKSG, United Kingdom Serials Group

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2. General information
2.1 Purpose
The purpose of the COUNTER Code of Practice is to facilitate the recording, exchange and interpretation of online usage data by establishing open, international standards and protocols for the provision of vendor-generated usage statistics that are consistent, credible and compatible. COUNTER builds on a number of important ongoing initiatives, standards and protocols, See Section 8 below.

2.2 Scope
The COUNTER Code of Practice provides a framework for the recording and exchange of online usage statistics at an international level. In doing so, it covers the following areas: data elements to be measured; definitions of these data elements; content and format of usage reports; requirements for data processing; requirements for auditing; guidelines to avoid duplicate counting when intermediary gateways and aggregators are used. In response to librarian feedback, Release 1 of the Code of Practice focuses on journals and databases, as there is more general agreement on the data elements to be measured and on their definitions than for other content types. Journals and databases also represent the largest components of most library materials budgets. A wider range of content types and more detailed levels of reporting will be covered as the Code of Practice is upgraded and extended in subsequent releases.

2.3 Application
COUNTER is designed for librarians, vendors and intermediaries. The guidelines provided in the Code of Practice enable librarians to compare statistics from different vendors, to make better-informed purchasing decisions, and to plan infrastructure more effectively. COUNTER also provides vendors/intermediaries with the detailed specifications they need to generate data in a format useful to customers, to compare the relative usage of different delivery channels, and to learn more about online usage patterns. COUNTER also provides guidance to others interested in information about online usage statistics.

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2.4 Strategy
COUNTER is an open Code of Practice that will evolve in response to the demands of the international librarian, publishing and intermediary communities. A conscious decision has been taken to limit Release 1 to providing a set of relatively simple, reliable usage reports for journals and databases, as these are currently the most significant online purchases by libraries. Future releases will be extended horizontally, to cover e-books and other content types, and vertically, to provide more detailed levels of reporting. It is intended that librarians, vendors and other parties should work towards full implementation of Release 1 from the beginning of the 2004 subscription year, giving them one year to adapt their systems and processes. The Code of Practice is kept continually under review and feedback on its scope and application are actively sought from all interested parties. See Section 10 below.

2.5 Governance
COUNTER is governed by an Executive Committee, chaired by Richard Gedye of Oxford University Press. The day-to-day management of COUNTER is the responsibility of the Project Director, Peter Shepherd (pshepherd@projectCounter.org). See Section 9 below.

2.6 Definitions
Release 1 of the Code of Practice defines those data elements and other terms that are relevant, not only to the usage reports specified in Release 1, but also to other reports that vendors may wish to generate. The list of definitions will expand as the scope of the Code of Practice expands. Every effort has been made to use existing ISO, NISO, etc. definitions where appropriate, and the source is cited. See Section 3 below.

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2.7 Versions
There will be only one valid version of the COUNTER Code of Practice at any given time, but different levels of compliance are envisaged (see 2.8 below). The Code of Practice will be upgraded and extended on a regular basis. Each new version will be made available as a numbered Release on the COUNTER website; users will be alerted to its availability. It is planned that there will be no more than one new Release of the Code of Practice in any given calendar year.

2.8 Auditing and COUNTER compliance
From 2004, auditing will be required of each vendor's reports and processes to certify that they are COUNTER compliant. The auditing process will be designed to be simple, straightforward and not to be unduly burdensome or costly to the vendor.

To have their usage reports and data designated 'Release 1 COUNTER-compliant' a vendor must be able to deliver, as a minimum, “the Usage Reports defined as ‘level 1’ in Section 4, using the definitions defined in Section 3..” Vendors are, however, encouraged to comply with Level 2 standards in Sections 3 and 4 where possible, as these will allow the vendor to deliver more usable data to customers, and will obtain, for the vendor, a higher level of COUNTER-compliance.

2.9 Relationship to other standards, protocols and codes
The COUNTER Code of Practice builds on a number of existing industry initiatives and standards that address vendor-based network performance measures. (See Section 8 below). Where appropriate, definitions of data elements and other terms from these sources have been used in this Code of Practice, and are identified as such in Section 3 below.

2.10 Making comments on the Code of Practice
The COUNTER Executive Committee welcomes comments on the Code of Practice. See Section 10 below.

Comments will be accepted for a period of 12 months, January-December 2003, and will be taken into account in the development of subsequent releases of the Code of Practice.

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3. Definitions of terms used
Table 1 below lists the terms used in this Code of Practice, and provides a definition of each term, along with examples where appropriate. In order to be designated compliant with Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice, vendors must adhere to the definitions provided in Table 1. The terms listed in Table 1 are divided into the following broad categories: Page views, session data and market elements.

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TABLE 1: Definitions of terms used in the COUNTER Code of Practice

 #  Term  Examples/formats  Definition
 3.1  Page views    
 3.1.1  Bibliographic data    
 3.1.1.1  Service  Science Direct, Academic Universe, Wiley Interscience A branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete collection, or at a lower level.
 3.1.1.2  Publisher  Wiley, Springer An organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host and distribute information online and/or in printed form
3.1.1.3  Imprint  Pergamon A publisher brand or division, usually dedicated to publishing material within particular specialities and/or in specific formats (e.g. database, journal, etc.)
 3.1.1.4  Serial   A publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. This definition includes periodicals, newspapers, and annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); the journals, memoirs, proceeding, transactions, etc. of societies; and numbered monographic series (NISO)
 3.1.1.5  Journal  Tetrahedron Letters A serial that is a branded and continually growing collection of original articles within a particular discipline
 3.1.1.6  Issue   A collection of journal articles associated with each other via allocation of a specific issue number and presented as an identifiable unit online and/or as a physically bound and covered set of numbered pages in print.
 3.1.1.7  Host Ingenta, HighWire An intermediary online service which stores items that can be downloaded by the user
 3.1.1.8  Gateway SWETSwise, OCLC ECO An intermediary online service which does not store the items requested by the user, and which either a) refers these requests to a host or vendor site or service from which the items can be downloaded by the user, or b) requests items from the vendor site or service and delivers them to the user within the gateway environment.
 3.1.1.9  Vendor  Wiley, Oxford University Press A publisher or other online information provider who delivers its own licensed content to the customer and with whom the customer has a contractual relationship
 3.1.1.10  Aggregator ProQuest, Gale, Lexis Nexis A type of vendor that hosts content from multiple publishers, delivers content direct to customers and is paid for this service by customers
 3.1.1.11  Database Social Science Abstracts A collection of electronically stored data or unit records (facts, bibliographic data, texts) with a common user interface and software for the retrieval and manipulation of data (NISO)
 3.1.1.12  Print ISSN  Free text format (up to 13 characters in future) Unique International Standard Serial Number assigned to the print version of a journal by the national ISSN agency of the country from which the journal is published
 3.1.1.13  Online ISSN Free text format (up to 13 characters in future) Unique International Standard Serial Number assigned to the online version of a journal by the national ISSN agency of the country from which the journal is published.
 3.1.1.14  DOI (Digital Object  Identifier)   The Digital Object Identifier is a means of persistently identifying a piece of intellectual property (a creation) on a digital network, irrespective of its current location (www.doi.org)
 3.1.1.15  Volume Alpha-numeric, no leading zeros Numbered collection of a minimum of one journal issue; in printed form, volumes of more than one issue are not normally bound together by the publisher, but are frequently bound together in hardback by the purchasing library to aid preservation of the printed product.
 3.1.1.16  Year   Year in which an article, item, issue or volume is first published in any medium
 3.1.1.17  Issue date dd-mm-yyyy;dd=1, if monthly or less frequent The date of release by the publisher to customers of a journal issue
 3.1.2  Page type    
 3.1.2.1  Item Full text article, TOC, Abstract, Database record A uniquely identifiable piece of published work that may be original or a digest or a review of other published work. PDF, Postscript and HTML formats of the same full text article (for example), will be counted as separate items.
 3.1.2.2  Article   An item of original written work published in a journal or other serial publication. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references
 3.1.2.3  TOC (Table of   Contents)   A list of all articles published in a journal issue
 3.1.2.4  Abstract   A short summary of the content of an article, always including its conclusions
 3.1.2.5  Article header   That subsection of an article which includes the following information: publisher; journal title, volume, issue and page numbers; copyright information; list of names and affiliations of the authors; author organization addresses; title and abstract (where present) of the article; keywords (where present)
 3.1.2.6  Full-text article    The complete text, including all references, figures and tables, of an article, plus links to any supplementary material published with it.
 3.1.2.6.1  HTML   Article formatted in HTML so as to be readable by a web browser
 3.1.2.6.2  PDF   Article formatted in portable document format so as to be readable via the Adobe Acrobat reader; tends to replicate online the appearance of an article as it would appear in printed page form
 3.1.2.6.3  Postscript   Article formatted in Postscript for faithful output via printer
 3.1.2.6.4  References   A list of works referred to in an article, giving sufficient detail to enable the identification and location of each work
 3.1.2.7  Database record   An individual record in a standard format, the collection of which in a form that can be processed by a computer constitutes a database.
 3.1.2.8  Search   A specific intellectual query, typically equated to submitting the search form of the online service to the server.
 3.1.2.9  Item requests   Number of items requested by users. User requests include viewing, downloading, emailing and printing of items, where this activity can be recorded and controlled by the server rather than the browser. Turnaways will also be counted. (See 3.1.5.4)
 3.1.2.10  Successful request   For web-server logs successful requests are those with specific return codes, as defined by NCSA.
 3.1.3  Source of page    
 3.1.3.1  Direct from vendor's server   Delivery of content to the user is from the vendor's own service/site, to which the user has direct access.
 3.1.3.2  Direct from an aggregator   Delivery of content to the user is from an intermediary (a gateway that is also a host), using its own store of publishers' content. Gateway is responsible for recording and supplying usage statistics for full-text requests direct to the customer and also, where contractually permitted to do so, to the vendor. (In this case the vendor may not add the 'gateway' usage figures to those recording usage of content delivered by the vendor direct to the customer)
 3.1.3.3  Referral from an aggregator or gateway   Delivery involves the gateway sending the end user from the gateway's site to the vendor's site for the requested content. Vendor is responsible for recording and supplying full-text usage statistics to the customer. Gateway may also supply usage statistics to the customer, but must report them separately from those covering its delivery of full-text direct to the customer
 3.1.3.4  Via a gateway   Delivery of content is via a gateway, which requests the content from the publisher and delivers it to the user in the context of the gateway service. Responsibility for collecting and supplying usage statistics to the customer is the same as in 3.1.3.2 above.
 3.1.3.5  Referral to an aggregator or gateway   In this case an index or abstract service refers the customer to the gateway for full-text. In this case the full-text is delivered according to one of scenarios 3.1.3.2, 3.1.3.3 or 3.1.3.4 above, and the recording and supplying of usage statistics to the customer is as specified in each of these cases.
 3.1.4  How user is authenticated    
 3.1.4.1  Username and password   No definition required
 3.1.4.2  IP address  The IP address seen by the primary service-this may be the real end-user's IP or a proxy IP. This is always recorded, even if the authentication is not via IP address. IP address of the computer on which the session is conducted
 3.1.4.3  Customer-authenticated user  Referring URL, Athens User authentication is provided by a referring service that has an agreement with the online resource that allows the referring services own users access to the online resource.
 3.1.5  Access rights    Rights for using a vendor's online collection or database defined by law, license, or other contractual and/or co-operative agreement. (NISO)
 3.1.5.1  Access granted  Yes/no  User is granted access to the online collection or database, or subsets thereof, subject to the access rights specified in the agreement with the vendor.
 3.1.5.2  Session   A successful request of an online service. It is one cycle of user activities that typically starts when a user connects to the service or database and ends by terminating activity that is either explicit (by leaving the service through exit or logout) or implicit (timeout due to user inactivity) (NISO).
 3.1.5.3  Timeout   Automatic termination of a session due to a period of user inactivity. The average timeout setting would be 30 minutes. If another timeout period is used this should be reported. (NISO)
 3.1.5.4  Turnaway (Rejected session)   A turnaway (rejected session) is defined as an unsuccessful log-in to an electronic service by exceeding the simultaneous user limit.


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 3.2  Session data    
 3.2.1  Start time  Yyyy-mm-dd-hh-mn-ss Records the time a user's session begins (first login or IP authentication), to the nearest second, using UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time, formerly GMT).
 3.2.2  End time  Yyyy-mm-dd-hh-mn-ss Records the time a user's session ends or timeouts, to the nearest second, using UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time, formerly GMT).
 3.2.3  Duration   Records the time a user's session lasts, to the nearest second.
 3.2.4  Total activity   Total number of views or downloads of items per session.


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 3.3  Market elements    
 3.3.1  Subscriber   An individual or organization that pays a vendor in advance for access to a specified range of the vendor's services and/or content for a pre-determined period of time and subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor.
 3.3.2  Licensee   = Subscriber (see 3.3.1 above)
 3.3.3  Consortium  Ohiolink The consortium through which the institution or user obtained online access. A consortium is defined by a range of IP addresses that may be in specific groupings (e.g. institutes).
 3.3.4  Consortium member  Ohio State University A university, hospital or other institute that has obtained access for its users to online information resources as part of a consortium. A consortium member is defined by a subset of the Consortium's range of IP addresses.
 3.3.5  IP address    See 3.1.4.2 above
 3.3.6  User   An individual with the right to access the online resource, usually provided by their institution, and conduct a session.
 3.3.7  Onsite usage   Computer being used to access the online resource is within a building or on the campus of an institution (EBSCO).
 3.3.8  Remote usage   Computer being used is off-campus, or away from the Institution's property, e.g. access by a user from home.

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4. Usage Reports
This section lists the COUNTER Usage Reports and specifies the content, format and delivery specifications that these reports must meet to be designated 'COUNTER-Compliant'.

Note:

  • Terms for which there are definitions in Section 3 above are highlighted below. Click on the highlighted term to view the definition.
  • Level 1 is the minimum level of reporting that vendors must supply in order for their usage reports to designated 'COUNTER-Compliant (Level 1)'
  • Level 2 is a more detailed level of COUNTER-compliant reporting that provides more information for customers. If vendors can supply these usage reports to customers now, they are encouraged to do so and will be designated 'COUNTER-Compliant (Level 2)'.

4.1 Usage Reports: Level 1

4.1.1 Examples are provided below of the five Usage Reports that vendors must supply for Level 1 COUNTER Compliance.

Journal Report 1: Number of Successful Full-Text Article Requests by Month and Journal
(Full journal name, print ISSN and online ISSN are listed.)

   Print ISSN  Online ISSN  Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Total for all journals      6637  8732  7550  45897
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123  456  521  665  4532
Journal of BB  9821-3361  2312-8751  203  251  275  3465
Journal of CC  2464-2121  0154-1521  0  0  0  0
Journal of DD  5355-5444  0165-5542  203  251  275  2978

Note:

  1. The 'Total for all journals' line is provided at the top of the Table to allow it to be stripped out without disrupting the rest of the Table, as the number of journals included may vary from one month to another.
  2. Journals for which the number of full-text article requests is zero in every month should be included in Journal Report 1

The above report complies with the COUNTER Code of Practice for collection and reporting of usage data. For definitions of the terms used, See Section 3.

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Journal Report 2: Turnaways by Month and Journal
(Full journal name, print ISSN and online ISSN are listed.)
-this report is applicable only where the user access model is based on a maximum number of concurrent users

   Print ISSN  Online ISSN  Page Type  Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Total Full-text Turnaways for all Journals        453  233  318  4765
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123  Full text Turnaways  23  40  12  342
Journal of BB  9821-3361  2312-8751  Full text Turnaways  18  20  16  287

The above report complies with the COUNTER Code of Practice for collection and reporting of usage data. For definitions of the above terms, see Section 3.

 

Database Report 1: Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Database

     Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Database AA  Searches Run  2322  2520  2742  29878
Database AA  Sessions  1821  1929  2211  27654
           
Database BB  Searches Run  3466  3210  4459  36543
Database BB  Sessions  1987  2200  2544  24209

The above report complies with the COUNTER Code of Practice for collection and reporting of usage data. For definitions of the above terms used, see Section 3.

 

Database Report 2: Turnaways by Month and Database
-this report is applicable only where the user access model is based on a maximum number of concurrent users.

     Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Total Database Record Turnaways for all Databases Database Record Turnaways  453  233  318  2435
Database AA Database Record Turnaways  23  40  12  60
Database BB Database Record Turnaways  18  20  16  82

The above report complies with the COUNTER Code of Practice for collection and reporting of usage data. For definitions of the terms used, see Section 3.

 

Database Report 3: Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Service

     Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Total for Service Searches Run  16567  18643  20987  80654
Total for Service Sessions  12007  12677  13003  65487

4.2 Customer categories for Usage Reports:
Customer accounts, access and entitlements to vendor sites are organized in a number of different ways, but most commonly by IP addresses or by username/password.

The vendor should provide the functionality to create usage reports on different levels for the customer customer at the Consortium, Consortium Member, Institute or Department level.

Note: it is not always possible to require usage reports for a specific IP address (unless it is a proxy server), as this may violate privacy laws. The exception to this is in the case of misuse (such as usage by a crawler or spider, which can be attributed to a single IP address) where the vendor may provide a report for an individual IP, to allow the customer to deal with the misuse.

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4.3 Report delivery
Report delivery must conform to the following standards for Release 1:

  • Reports must be provided either as a CSV file, as a Microsoft Excel file, or as a file that can be easily exported to Microsoft Excel.
  • Reports should be made available on a password-controlled website (accompanied by an e-mail alert when data is updated).
  • Reports must be provided at least monthly.
  • Data must be updated within two weeks of the end of the reporting period.
  • All of last calendar year's data and this calendar year's to date must be supplied.

4.4 Types of report: Level 2
Below are listed examples of two reports that are not mandatory for compliance with COUNTER Release 1, but which will be required for subsequent releases, and which vendors are encouraged to provide if they are in a position to do so.

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Journal Report 3: Number of Successful Item Requests and Turnaways
by Month, Journal and Page-Type
(Full Journal name, print ISSN and Online ISSN are listed)

 Journal Name  Print ISSN  Online ISSN  Page Type  Jan-01  Feb-01  Mar-01  Calendar YTD
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Table of Contents  732  806  676  3543
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Abstracts  1032  1140  1020  6896
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 References  543  322  567  4002
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text Postscript Requests  444  365  432  3987
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text PDF Requests  621  670  598  4657
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text HTML Requests  322  420  543  4433
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text Total Requests  943  1090  888  5021
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text PDF Turnaways  23  40  32  186
Journal of AA  1212-3131  3225-3123 Full-text HTML Turnaways  10  21  18  102
               
Journal of BB  9821-3361  0154-1521 Table of Contents  220  300  346  1809
Journal of BB  9821-3361  0154-1521 Abstracts  180  202  154  990
               
Total for all Journals     Table of Contents  66322  70312  81554  400980
Total for all Journals     Abstracts  54126  46005  55265  267980
Total for all Journals     References  4532  3987  5473  34876
Total for all Journals     Full-text Postscript Requests  11345  10947  12534  66007
Total for all Journals     Full-text PDF Requests  32112  34554  38221  224623
Total for all Journals     Full-text HTML Requests  22500  24000  19500  107841
Total for all Journals     Full-text Total Requests  54612  58554  57721  394532
Total for all Journals     Full-text PDF Turnaways  3221  4112  2113  8765
Total for all Journals     Full-text HTML Turnaways  1123  1321  1511  6453

This report complies with the COUNTER Code of Practice for collection and reporting of usage data. For definitions of the terms used, see Section 3 above.

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Journal Report 4: Total Searches Run by Month and Service
(This report includes saved searches, modified searches, and searches with zero results)

     Jan - 01  Feb - 01  Mar - 01  Calendar YTD
Total for all Collections Searches Run  22430  18769  17998  98045
Collection AA Searches Run  2322  2520  2742  8006
Collection BB Searches Run  1588  1322  1643  6998

4.5 Report delivery:
As for Level 1 (Section 4.3 above), except that all of the last two calendar years' data and this calendar year's to date must be supplied.

 

5. Data Processing
Usage data collected by vendors/intermediaries for the usage reports to be sent to customers should meet the basic requirement that only intended usage is recorded and that all requests that are not intended by the user are removed.

Because the way usage records are generated can differ across platforms, it is impractical to describe all the possible filters used to clean up the data. This Code of Practice, therefore, specifies only the requirements to be met by the data to be used for building the reports. Usage data can be generated by the web-server holding the content (logfiles) or by storing the usage information in so-called 'key-events' at content holding databases.

Requirements

  1. Only succesful and valid requests should be counted. For webserver-logs sucessful requests are those with a specific return code. The standards for return codes are defined and maintained by NCSA (http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/edu/trg/webstats/ ). In case key events are used their definition should match the NCSA standards.
  2. Records generated by the server together with the requested page (e.g. images, gif's , style sheets (.css) should be ignored.
  3. Internal usage should be filtered out.
  4. All users' double-clicks on an http-link should be counted as only 1 request.
    The time window for occurrence of a double-click should be set at 10 seconds between the first and the second mouse-click. There are a number of options to make sure that a double click comes from one and the same user:
    1. Where only the IP address of a user is logged that IP should be taken as the field to trace double-clicks
    2. When a session-cookie is implemented and logged, the session-cookie should be used to trace the double-clicks.
    3. When user-cookies are available and logged, the user-cookie should be used to trace double-clicks.
    4. When the username of a registered user is logged, this username should be used to trace double-clicks.
    The options 1 to 4 above have an increasing level of reliability for filtering out double-clicks: option 1 has the lowest level of precision (and may lead to underreporting from the vendor perspective) while with option 4 the result will be optimal.
  5. The rendering of a PDF takes longer than the rendering of an HTML page. Therefore requests by one and the same IP/username/session- or user cookie for one and the same pdf should be counted as a single request if these multiple requests occur within a 30 seconds time window. These multiple requests may also be triggered by pressing a refresh or back button on the desktop by the user.
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6. Auditing
Auditing will be required to validate the usage reports and processes described in Sections 4 and 5 above and will be an integral part of the COUNTER Code of Practice. At the time of publication of Release 1 of the Code of Practice (December 2002), detailed auditing requirements are in the process of being developed, and it is planned to incorporate these into the Code of Practice by December 2003. Meanwhile, those vendors wishing to be designated COUNTER-compliant during 2003 will be required to give the COUNTER office access to a set of their usage reports and to sign a declaration stating that the reports and data supplied conform to the specifications of the COUNTER Code of Practice. See Section 7 below.

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7. Compliance
7.1 Timetable and procedure
From January 2004 COUNTER-compliant vendors will be required to have their usage reports, as well as the internal processes that generate the data included in them, audited by an independent, COUNTER-approved auditor. Vendors who are in a position to adopt the Code of Practice earlier are encouraged to do so.

A Register of Vendors Providing COUNTER-compliant Usage Reports will be maintained by the COUNTER office and posted on the COUNTER website. In 2003, vendors may apply for inclusion on the Register of COUNTER-compliant vendors by submitting to the COUNTER office a Declaration of COUNTER-compliance (Appendix A), signed by the vendor, which states that the usage reports and other usage data provided to customers by the vendor are COUNTER-compliant. To maintain COUNTER-compliant status from January 2004, this Declaration will have to be accompanied by a report from an independent, COUNTER-approved auditor confirming that the usage reports and data are indeed COUNTER-compliant. A list of COUNTER-approved auditors will be posted on the COUNTER website.

The signed declarations should be sent to the COUNTER office.

7.2 Licence agreements
To encourage widespread implementation of the COUNTER Code of Practice, customers are urged to include the following clause in their licence agreements with vendors, from December 2003:

'The licensor confirms to the licensee that usage statistics covering the online usage of the journals and databases included in this licence will be provided. The licensor further confirms that such usage statistics will adhere to the specifications of the COUNTER Code of Practice, including data elements collected and their definitions; data processing guidelines; usage report content, format, frequency and delivery method.'


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7.3 Aggregators, gateways and hosts
Many, perhaps the majority, of online searches, are conducted using gateways or aggregators, rather than on the site of the original vendor of the item being sought. This presents special challenges for the collection of meaningful usage statistics. Section 3 of the Code of Practice specifies where responsibility lies for the recording and supplying of usage statistics when an intermediary aggregator or gateway is involved (see Section 3, Table 1, Terms 3.1.3.1, 3.1.3.2, 3.1.3.3, 3.1.3.4 and 3.1.3.5). The five scenarios defined therein describe protocols for delivery of the requested page to the customer:

  • Direct from the vendor's server
  • Direct from an aggregator
  • Referred from an aggregator or gateway
  • Via a gateway
  • Referred to an aggregator or gateway

7.4 Customer confidentiality
7.4.1 Privacy and user confidentiality
Statistical reports or data that reveal information about individual users will not be released or sold by vendors without the permission of that individual user, the consortium, and its member institutions (ICOLC Guidelines, December 2001).

7.4.2 Institutional or Consortia Confidentiality
Vendors do not have the right to release or sell statistical usage information about specific institutions or the consortium without permission, except to the consortium administrators and other member libraries. Use of institutional or consortium data as part of an aggregate grouping of similar institutions for purposes of comparison does not require prior permission as long as specific institutions or consortia are not identifiable. When required by contractual agreements, vendors may furnish institutional use data to the content providers. (ICOLC Guidelines, December 2001).

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8 . References to other standards, protocols and codes of practice
COUNTER has built on the work of a number of other existing initiatives and standards relevant to usage statistics. Most relevant among these are:

  • ARL New Measures Initiative.
    This has been set up in response to two needs: increasing demand for libraries to demonstrate outcomes/impacts in areas important to the institution, and increasing pressure to maximise resources. Of particular interest is the work associated with the E-metrics portion of this initiative, which is an effort to explore the feasibility of defining and collecting data on the use and value of electronic resources. This sets a useful context for COUNTER. Further information on the ARL E-metrics project can be found at www.arl.org/stats/newmeas/newmeas.html
  • ICOLC Guidelines for Statistical Measures of usage of Web-based Information Resources.
    The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) has developed a set of guidelines, revised in 2001, which specify a set of minimum requirements for usage data, and also provide guidance on privacy, confidentiality, access, delivery and report format. The ICOLC Guidelines are particularly relevant to COUNTER. Additional information may be found at www.library.yale.edu/consortia/2001webstats.html
  • NISO Forum on Performance Measures and Statistics for Libraries and NISO Standard Z39.7.
    Aspects of a number of NISO standards are relevant to COUNTER. For further information, see www.niso.org

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9 . Governance of COUNTER
COUNTER is incorporated as a public limited company in the United Kingdom. Legal responsibility lies with its Board of Directors, while an Executive Committee, supported by an International Advisory Board is responsible for the overall management and direction of the project. Specific responsibilities are delegated by the Executive Committee to the Project Director, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of COUNTER. (See Appendix B).

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10 . Maintenance and development of the COUNTER Code of Practice
The Executive Committee of COUNTER has overall responsibility for the development and maintenance of the Code of Practice. New releases, which will extend the Code of Practice to a cover a wider range of content types, will be made no more than once per annum.

The COUNTER Executive Committee welcomes comments on the Code of Practice and these may be forwarded, by e-mail, to the Project Director at www.projectCounter.org. Comments on Release 1 of the Code of Practice will be accepted for a period of 1 year, January-December 2003.

When providing your comments you are requested to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Please be as specific as possible, making sure to note the relevant section and subsection of the Code of Practice.
  • Where you are proposing an addition to the Code of Practice, please indicate the preferred section within the current version.

Appendices

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