COUNTER - Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources


Last updated: September 2014

Launched in March 2002, COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) is an international initiative serving librarians, publishers and intermediaries by setting standards that facilitate the recording and reporting of online usage statistics in a consistent, credible and compatible way. The first COUNTER Code of Practice, covering online journals and databases, was published in 2003. COUNTER.s coverage was extended further with the launch of the Code of Practice for online books and reference works in 2006. The body of COUNTER compliant usage statistics has steadily grown as more and more vendors have adopted the COUNTER Codes of Practice. This has contributed to the new discipline of usage bibliometrics and a great deal of work is underway to try to establish .value metrics. associated with usage, in which the COUNTER compliant statistics play an increasingly important role..

COUNTER does more than just set the standards for usage reports; we are co-operating with a number of organizations to develop a range of usage-related research and services. In 2006 COUNTER carried out research, sponsored by JISC (the UK Joint Information Systems Committee) on the effects of publisher platforms on usage and we are currently collaborating with the UK Serials Group on the possible development of a new Journal Usage Factor metric. Summary reports on both these projects can be found on the COUNTER website at . COUNTER has also worked with NISO on SUSHI (Standardised Usage Harvesting Initiative) to develop a protocol to facilitate the automated harvesting and consolidation of usage statistics from different vendors. This protocol may be found on the NISO website at

COUNTER brings the following benefits to librarians, publishers and intermediaries:

Librarians are able to compare usage statistics from different vendors; derive useful metrics such as cost-per-use; make better-informed purchasing decisions; plan infrastructure more effectively.

Publishers and intermediaries are able to: provide data to customers in a format they want; compare the relative usage of different delivery channels; aggregate data for customers using multiple delivery channels; learn more about genuine usage patterns.

Future objectives

While COUNTER has greatly improved the reliability and usability of online vendor usage statistics, there is still much for us to do, not only to help vendors further improve their usage reports and to help librarians to make sense of them, but also to keep the COUNTER codes up to date with changes in the online delivery of information. Our future objectives fall into three broad categories. First, to improve further the reliability of the core COUNTER data and extend scope of the Code of Practice beyond journals, databases and books. Second, to continue to increase the number of COUNTER compliant vendors. Third, to work with other industry organizations to facilitate the implementation of COUNTER and develop metrics based on the COUNTER data that are of practical value to both librarians and vendors.

Other initiatives on usage statistics

COUNTER has been built on, and liaises with, a number of important, ongoing industry initiatives that have done much valuable work to define customer requirements for usage statistics from vendors. Most notable in this context are:

ARL Statistics and Assessment
The ARL (Association of Research Libraries) Statistics and Assessment has been set up in response to the following two needs: increasing demand for libraries to demonstrate outcomes/impacts in areas important to the institution, and increasing pressure to maximise use of 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.

NISO is the National Information Standards Organization of the United States. COUNTER has worked with NISO on SUSHI (Standardized Usage Harvesting Initiative) to develop a protocol to facilitate the automated harvesting and consolidation of usage statistics from different vendors. This protocol is now available and may be found on the NISO/SUSHI website above.

COUNTER Project Director

Released on 1st September 2014

Application deadline: 3rd October 2014

As a result of the forthcoming retirement of the current holder of the position, we are seeking an experienced information professional to fill the role of Project Director of Counter Online Metrics. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to continue taking COUNTER forward at a time when the mission of the organization is expanding and taking new directions.

The Project Director is responsible for the strategic and operational management of the organization and is a key member of and works closely with the COUNTER Executive Committee. The Project Director reports to the COUNTER Board of Directors and takes part in board meetings.

Founded in 2003, Counter Online Metrics is a not-for-profit company based in the United Kingdom, but it is thoroughly international in its scope and global in its reach. For over a decade, COUNTER has set the standards for vendor reporting of online usage of journals, databases, books and other publications. This is achieved through the development of Codes of Practice, and the Project Director plays a key role in the development and implementation of these Codes of Practice. In 2014, COUNTER has broadened its scope to cover new usage-based metrics, notably the Usage Factor for journals and article-level usage reporting. For more information see

The scope of the position includes the development and implementation of the COUNTER Codes of Practice; leading the strategic planning to ensure that COUNTER meets the needs of its members and the wider community; financial management; marketing and communication; liaising with vendors, librarians, library consortia, standards organizations and other industry bodies; supervising staff; administration; reporting to the Board of Directors and to the Executive Committee.

The position is currently based in the UK, but can, within reason, be based in any country with strong, active library and publishing communities.

The successful candidate will have:

  • Experience at a senior level in the information industry, from either a vendor or a customer perspective
  • Knowledge of online publishing and the methods used to measure the value and impact of publications
  • Leadership, communication and presentation skills
  • General and financial management skills
  • Diplomacy and the ability to work with different groups globally
  • The ability to work independently and organize work efficiently

The Project Director, which is around 50% FTE, is contracted to Counter Online Metrics on an annual basis. The Project Director annual fee for the 50% FTE is expected to be in the range of 45k to 50k depending on experience. The successful contractor may also engage in other paid work, provided that there is no conflict of interest with COUNTER. The Role Description and Person Specification are available on the COUNTER web site at COUNTER Project Director Role Description.

To apply for this position please submit a full Curriculum Vitae, together with the names of two referees/references by 3rd October 2014 to David Sommer at The aim is to appoint the new Project Director by mid-2015 to allow time for a handover from the current incumbent.

Go back to the top