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The COUNTER Code of Practice

COUNTER’s library, publisher and vendor members have contributed to the development of Release 4 of the Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice enables publishers and vendors to produce consistent and credible usage data. This allows libraries to compare data received from different vendors and publishers, and to understand and demonstrate the value of the electronic resources to which they subscribe.

Release 4 is the current Code of Practice and the requirement for COUNTER-compliance.

More information about Release 5 Draft Code of Practice

Code of Practice
 

Auditing

An important feature of the COUNTER Code of Practice is that compliant vendors must be independently audited on a regular basis in order to maintain their COUNTER compliant status. To facilitate this, a set of detailed auditing standards and procedures has been published in Appendix E of this Code of Practice. In developing these COUNTER has tried to meet the need of customers for credible usage statistics without placing an undue administrative or financial burden on vendors. For this reason audits will be conducted online using the detailed test scripts included in the auditing standards and procedures.
The independent audit is required within 6 months of vendors first achieving compliance with the COUNTER Code of Practice for e-Resources, and annually thereafter. COUNTER will recognize an audit carried out by any CPA (Certified Public Accountant) (USA), by any CA (Chartered Accountant) (UK), or by their equivalent in other countries. Alternatively, the audit may be done by another, COUNTER-approved auditor, such as ABC, which is not a CA or a CPA.

6.1 The Audit Process

  1. COUNTER compliant vendors will be notified in writing by COUNTER that an audit is required at least 3 months before the audit is due.
  2. Vendors should respond within 1 month of receiving the reminder by informing COUNTER of their planned timetable for the audit and the name of the organization that will carry out the audit. Any queries about the audit process may be raised at this time.
  3. Irrespective of the auditor selected, the audit must adhere to the requirements and use the tests specified in Appendix E of this Code of Practice. The audit is carried out in three stages: Stage 1 covers the format and structure of the usage reports; in Stage 2 the auditor tests the integrity of the reported usage statistics; in Stage 3 the auditor checks that the delivery of the usage reports adheres to the COUNTER requirements
  4. Upon completion of the audit the auditor is required to send a signed copy of the audit report to the COUNTER office (lorraine.estelle@counterusage.org).

6.2 Categories of audit result are as follows:

  • A Pass, in which case no further action is required by the publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, hostAn intermediary online service which stores items that can be downloaded by the user, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form as a result of the audit. In some cases the auditor may add Observations to the audit report, which are designed to help the vendorA publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, hostAn intermediary online service which stores items that can be downloaded by the user, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form or other online information provider who delivers its own licensed content to the customerAn individual or organization that pays a vendor for access to a specified range of the vendor’s services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that pays a vendor for access to a specified range of the vendor’s services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor has a contractual relationship improve its COUNTER usage reports, but which are outside the scope of the audit itself.
  • A Qualified Pass, in which the auditor deems the publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, hostAn intermediary online service which stores items that can be downloaded by the user, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form to have passed the audit, but where the auditor raises a Minor IssueA collectionA subset of the content of a service; a collection is a branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete group 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 requiring further action to maintain COUNTER-compliant status. A Minor IssueA collectionA subset of the content of a service; a collection is a branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete group 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 does not affect the reported figures, but is one which should be resolved within 3 months of the audit to maintain COUNTER-compliant status. An example of a Minor IssueA collectionA subset of the content of a service; a collection is a branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete group 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 is where a report format does not conform to the COUNTER specifications.
  • A Fail, where the auditor has identified an issueA collectionA subset of the content of a service; a collection is a branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete group 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 that must be resolved immediately for the vendorA publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, hostAn intermediary online service which stores items that can be downloaded by the user, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form or other online information provider who delivers its own licensed content to the customerAn individual or organization that pays a vendor for access to a specified range of the vendor’s services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that pays a vendor for access to a specified range of the vendor’s services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor has a contractual relationship to maintain COUNTER -compliant status

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 Friendly Guide to COUNTER and The Friendly Technical Guide to COUNTER provide the information you will need to start the process.

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 two approved COUNTER auditors:

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

 
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