mobile-menu mobile-menu-arrow Menu

The COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data

The Code of Practice for Research Data Usage Metrics standardizes the generation and distribution of usage metrics for research data, enabling for the first time the consistent and credible reporting of research data usage.

COUNTER welcomes input and feedback from the community on this first iteration, so that it can be further developed and refined.

A downloadable PDF is now available in the download section below.


Code of Practice
Text size:   /

Appendix A: Glossary of Terms for CoPRD

Aligned as much as possible with the COUNTER Code of Practice Release 5 glossary.

Abstract See Description.
Access_Method A COUNTER attribute indicating whether the usage related to investigations and requests was generated by a human user browsing and searching a website (Regular) or by a computer (Machine).
Author(s) See Creator
Collection A curated collection of metadata about content items.
Component A uniquely identifiable constituent part of a content item composed of more than one file (digital object).
Content item A generic term describing a unit of content accessed by a user of a content host. Typical content items include articles, books, chapters, datasets, multimedia, etc.
Content provider An organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute, and trade information in electronic form.
Creator(s) The person/people who wrote/created the datasets whose usage is being reported-
Data repository A content provider that provides access to research data.
Data type The field identifying type of content. The Code of Practice for Research Data Usage Metrics only recognizes the Data type Dataset.
Dataset An aggregation of data, published or curated by a single agent, and available for access or download in one or more formats, with accompanying metadata. Other term: data package.
Description A short description of a dataset. Accessing the description falls into the usage category of Investigations.
DOI (digital object identifier) The digital object identifier is a means of identifying a piece of intellectual property (a creation) on a digital network, irrespective of its current location (IDF).
Double-click A repeated click or repeated access to the same resource by the same user within a period of 30 seconds. COUNTER requires that double-clicks must be counted as a single click.
Host types A categorization of Content Providers used by COUNTER. The Code of Practice for Research Data Usage Metrics uses the following host types:

●      Repository

●      Data Repository

Internet robot, crawler, spider An identifiable, automated program or script that visits websites and systematically retrieves information from them, often to provide indexes for search engines rather than for research. Not all programs or scripts are classified as robots.
Investigation A category of COUNTER metric types that represent a user accessing information related to a dataset (i.e. a description or detailed descriptive metadata) or the content of the dataset itself.
Log file analysis A method of collecting usage data in which the web server records all of its transactions.
Machine A category of COUNTER Metric Types that represents a machine accessing content, e.g. a script written by a researcher. This does not include robots, crawlers and spiders.
Master reports Reports that contain additional filters and breakdowns beyond those included in the standard COUNTER reports.
Metadata A series of textual elements that describes a content item but does not include the item itself. For example, metadata for a dataset would typically include publisher, a list of names and affiliations of the creators, the title and description, and keywords or other subject classifications.
Metric types, Metric_Type An attribute of COUNTER usage that identifies the nature of the usage activity.
ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) An international standard identifier for individuals (i.e. authors) to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship, and innovation activities.
Persistent Identifier (PID) Globally unique identifier and associated metadata for research data, or other entities (articles, researchers, scholarly institutions) relevant in scholarly communication.
Platform An interface from an aggregator, publisher, or other online service that delivers the content to the user and that counts and provides the COUNTER usage reports.
Provider ID A unique identifier for a Content Provider and used by discovery services and other content sites to track usage for content items provided by that provider.
Publication date, Publication_Date An optional field in COUNTER item reports and Provider Discovery Reports. The date of release by the publisher to customers of a content item.
Publisher An organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form.
Regular A COUNTER Access_Method. Indicates that usage was generated by a human user browsing/searching a website, rather than by a computer.
Reporting period, Reporting_Period The total time period covered in a usage report.
Request A category of COUNTER Metric Types that represents a user accessing the dataset content.
Session A successful request of an online service. A single 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).
SUSHI An international standard (Z39-93) that describes a method for automating the harvesting of reports. Research Data SUSHI API Specification is an implementation of this standard for harvesting Code of Practice for Research Data Usage Metrics reports.
Total_Dataset_Investigations A COUNTER Metric_Type that represents the number of times users accessed the content of a dataset, or information describing that dataset (i.e. metadata).
Total_Dataset_Requests A COUNTER Metric_Type that represents the number of times users requested the content of a dataset. Requests may take the form of viewing, downloading, or emailing the dataset provided such actions can be tracked by the content provider’s server.
Transactions A usage event.
Unique_Dataset_Investigations A COUNTER Metric Type that represents the number of unique “Datasets” investigated in a user-session.
Unique_Dataset_Requests A COUNTER Metric Type that represents the number of unique datasets requested in a user-session.
User A person who accesses the online resource.
User agent An identifier that is part of the HTTP/S protocol that identifies the software (i.e. browser) being used to access the site. May be used by robots to identify themselves.
Version Multiple versions of a dataset are defined by significant changes to the content and/or metadata, associated with changes in one or more components.
Year of publication Calendar year in which a dataset is published.




ANSI/NISO Z39.93-2014: Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) Protocol. (2014). Retrieved from
Burton, A., Fenner, M., Haak, W., & Manghi, P. (2017). Scholix Metadata A series of textual elements that describe a “Content Item” but does not include the “Item” itself.  For example, “Metadata” for a “Journal Article” would, typically include:  “Publisher”; “Journal” title, volume, issue and page numbers; copyright information; list of names and affiliations of the “Authors”; “Author” organization addresses; “Article title” and “Abstract” of the “Article”; and keywords or other subject classifications.Schema for Exchange of Scholarly Communication Links. Zenodo.
Costas, R., Meijer, I., Zahedi, Z., & Wouters, P. (2013). The Value of Research Data -Metrics for datasets from a cultural and technical point of view. A Knowledge Exchange Report. Retrieved from
COUNTER Code of Practice Release 5. (2017). Retrieved from
COUNTER-Robots: Official list of user A person who accesses the online resourceagents that are regarded as robots/spiders by COUNTER. (2017). Retrieved from
Dekkers, A., & Isaac, A. (2018). Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT) 1.1. Retrieved from
Fielding, R., & Reschke, J. (2014). RFC7231: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Semantics and Content. Retrieved from
ICOLC Guidelines for Statistical Measures of Usage of Web-Based Information Resources (1998, revised 2001, 2006). (2006). Retrieved from
ISO 8601:2004 – Data elements and interchange formats. (2004). Retrieved from
Kratz, J. E., & Strasser, C. (2015). Making data count. Scientific Data, 2, 150039.
Make Data Count. (2017). Retrieved from
NISO RP-25-2016: Outputs of the NISO Alternative Assessment Metrics Project. (2016). Retrieved from
Project COUNTER. (2002). Retrieved from
Research Data SUSHI An international standard (Z39-93) that describes a method for automating the harvesting of reports.  COUNTER_SUSHI is an implementation of this standard for harvesting COUNTER reports. COUNTER compliance requires “Content Providers” to implement COUNTER_SUSHI.API Specification. (2018). Retrieved from
RFC 2119: Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. (1997). Retrieved from

How to become Counter Compliant

All academic libraries across the world use and trust COUNTER usage reports to inform renewal and new purchasing decisions, to inform faculty about the value of the library and its resources and to understand user behaviour and improve the user experience.

Counter will help publishers and vendors to become compliant. The The Friendly Guide for Providers Release 5  and Technical Notes and will provide the information you will need to start the process. Content providers transitioning from Release 4 to Release 5 compliance will also find transition timeline useful in their planning.

Audit Process

To comply with the Code of Practice, publishers and vendors must be independently audited within six months of signing the Declaration of COUNTER Compliance, and annually thereafter.

There are three approved COUNTER auditors:

COUNTER will also accept an audit by any Chartered Accountant (UK), CPA (USA) or their equivalent elsewhere.

Release 5 Queries COP Register Members Guides Members

Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsors