Last updated: February 2013
1: What is COUNTER?
2: How is COUNTER organised?
COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic
Resources), launched in 2002, is an international initiative to improve
the reliability of online usage statistics. It is supported by the vendor,
intermediary and librarian communities. COUNTERís objective is to
ensure that vendor online usage reports are credible, compatible and
consistent. This is achieved by the publication of Codes of Practice that
specify the content, format, delivery mechanisms and data processing
rules for a set of core usage reports that are easily implemented by
vendors and easily understood by librarians.
3: How is COUNTER funded?
COUNTER is a not-for-profit company, based in the United Kingdom
and owned by its members. Overall legal responsibility rests with a
Board of Directors, who have appointed an Executive Committee to
oversee the operation. A Project Director, reporting to the Executive
committee, is responsible for the day-to-day management of
COUNTER. The publisher, intermediary and librarian communities are
all represented on the Board and on the Executive Committee, as well
as on the International Advisory Board.
4: Who is eligible for COUNTER membership?
COUNTERís principal source of funding is annual membership fees,
supplemented by occasional research grants for specific projects.
5: How many COUNTER Codes of Practice are there?
Publishers, intermediaries, libraries, and library consortia are all eligible
for membership of COUNTER, as are industry organizations, such as
ARL (the Association of Research Libraries) and ALPSP (the
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers).
6: How can I find out if a particular vendor is COUNTER compliant?
There are currently two COUNTER Codes of Practices. These are: the
Code of Practice for Journals and Databases (Release 3 has, since
September 2009, been the only valid version of this Code of Practice);
and Release 1 of the Code of Practice for Books and Reference Works
(valid from March 2006). Only vendors whose reports comply with the specifications of these Releases of the Codes of Practice can be regarded as COUNTER compliant.
7: How frequently will there be new Releases of the COUNTER Code of Practice?
All vendors who are COUNTER compliant are listed on the ĎCompliant
Vendorsí page of the COUNTER website (www.projectCounter.org),
along with the COUNTER usage reports that they provide. Only the
vendors and usage reports listed on this page on the website can be
regarded as COUNTER compliant.
8: When a new Release is implemented mid-calendar-year, do usage reports that are compliant with the prior Release during the first part of that year have to be retrospectively upgraded to meet the requirements of the new Release?
Release 1 of the Code of Practice for Journals and databases was
published in January 2003. Release 2 was published in April 2005 and
valid from January 2006. Release 3 (the currently valid Release) was
published in August 2008 and was valid from 1 September 2009. There
is no fixed timetable for future Releases, as COUNTER responds to the
demands of and changes in the market. It is not envisaged, however,
that there will be a new Release of a given Code of Practice more than
every 2-3 years.
9: What does it mean when a vendor states that it is 'COUNTER compliant'?
No. Retrospective upgrading is not required. For most vendors such
retrospective upgrading of the usage reports is not possible, as the
relevant raw data will not have been retained.
10: How is the COUNTER audit done?
This means that the vendor is providing usage reports, for a specific
range of its online products and services, that are compliant with the
current Release of a COUNTER Code of Practice. Only those vendor
products and services that are listed in the Register of Vendors
published on the COUNTER website may be regarded as being
COUNTER compliant. When a vendor states that it is COUNTER
compliant this does not imply that all of its online products/services are
COUNTER compliant. Customers should check the compliance status
of individual vendors on the COUNTER website.
11: How can I find out more about COUNTER?
The COUNTER audit must be carried out by an independent auditor, who
does an online audit, using test scripts prepared by COUNTER. The audit
process, together with the test scripts, is described in Appendix E of the
Code of Practice for Journals and Databases, and in Appendix D of the
Code of Practice for Books and Reference Works, which are published on
the COUNTER website (www.projectcounter.org/code_practice.html).
COUNTER will recognise any Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the
USA, any Chartered Accountant in the UK, or their equivalents elsewhere,
as independent auditors. Alternatively, vendors may choose to use ABC,
an organization specifically devoted to online auditing and which has
demonstrated to COUNTER its ability to do this audit.
12: What are the next steps for COUNTER?
The full texts of all our Codes of Practice are freely available on the
COUNTER website (www.projectCounter.org), along with much other
information on COUNTER. In addition, for those who want to know more
about implementing COUNTER and using the usage reports, we cooperate with the UK Serials Group and with NISO on a series of
workshops and webinars. Information on such events may be found on the
In addition to increasing the number of vendors that are compliant with the
COUNTER Codes of Practice, we shall continue to improve and refine the
Codes of Practice and extend the range of content covered by them.
Specific issues currently being addressed include: reporting of database
usage; setting standards for the usage of content held by institutional
repositories; refinements to the Code of Practice for Books and Reference
Works. COUNTER also participates in industry initiatives that are designed
to improve the quality of usage data, to facilitate the management of usage
data and to develop measurement tools derived from usage data. To
theses ends COUNTER has actively worked with NISO on SUSHI, with
the UK Serials Group on the feasibility of developing a possible new
Usage Factor measure for journals; and with the UK JISC on the
development of standards for recording and reporting usage at the
individual article level.