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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.

Information about Release 5 Draft Code of Practice

Code of Practice
 

Compliance

7.1 Timetable and procedure

Release 4 of the COUNTER Code of Practice for e-Resources, published in final form in March 2012, became the only valid version of the Code of Practice from 1 January 2014.

Applications for COUNTER-compliant status

A Register of Vendors and their products for which COUNTER compliant usage reports are available is maintained by the COUNTER office and posted on the COUNTER website. Vendors may apply to the Project Director (lorraine.estelle@counterusage.org) for their products to be included on the Register. Upon receipt of the application vendors will be required to allow at least one of the COUNTER library test sites to evaluate their usage reports. When the usage reports are deemed to comply with the COUNTER Code of Practice 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 will be asked to sign a Declaration of COUNTER-compliance (Appendix B), after which 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 and its products will be added to the Register. Within 6 months thereafter a report from an independent auditor, confirming that the usage reports and data are indeed COUNTER-compliant, will be required. See Appendix E for a description of the auditing procedure.

The signed declarations should be sent to the COUNTER office as email attachments, to:
lorraine.estelle@counterusage.org

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:

‘The licensor confirms to the licenseeSubscriber: 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 predetermined period of time and subject to terms and conditions agreed with the vendor that usage statistics covering the online usage of the
products covered by 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’.

7.3 Aggregators, gateways and hosts

Many online searches, are conducted using gateways or aggregators, rather than on the site of the original 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 of the itemAbstractA short summary of the content of an article, always including its conclusions, DatabaseA 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 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) recordAn individual record in a standard format, the 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 which in a form that can be processed by a computer constitutes a databaseA 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 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) A uniquely identifiable piece of published work that may be: a full-text articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has oneThe complete text, including all references, figures and tables, of an articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has one, plus links to any supplementary material published with it (original or a review of other published work); an abstractA short summary of the content of an article, always including its conclusions or digest of a full-text articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has oneThe complete text, including all references, figures and tables, of an articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has one, plus links to any supplementary material published with it; a sectional HTMLArticleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has one formatted in HTML so as to be readable by a web browser Hypertext Markup Language. A form of text markup readable by web browsers page; supplementary material associated with a full-text articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has oneThe complete text, including all references, figures and tables, of an articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has one, plus links to any supplementary material published with it (e.g. a supplementary data set), or nontextual resources, such as an image, a video, or audio) being sought. This presents special challenges for the 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 meaningful usage statistics for COUNTER Reports. In order to avoid the risk of duplicate counting of full-text usage, publishers and intermediaries must adhere to the following principle: the entity that delivers the full-text articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has oneThe complete text, including all references, figures and tables, of an articleAn item of original written work published in a journal, other serial publication, or in a book. An article is complete in itself, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of references, if it has one, plus links to any supplementary material published with it 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 is the entity responsible for recording usage and reporting that usage 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 in COUNTER Reports, such as JournalA serial that is a branded and continually growing 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 original articles within a particular discipline Report 1. The only exception to this rule is where a contractual arrangement is in place that requires one or the other to report usage 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, irrespective of whether they deliver the full text to that 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. Under no circumstances may both 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 and intermediary record and report the same instance of usage.

7.4 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 confidentiality

7.4.1 Privacy and userAn individual with the right to access the online resource, usually provided by their institution, and conduct a sessionA successful request of an online serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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). It is one cycle of user activities that typically starts when a user connects to the serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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) or databaseA 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 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) and ends by terminating activity that is either explicit (by leaving the serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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) through exit or logout) or implicit (timeout due to user inactivity) 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 userAn individual with the right to access the online resource, usually provided by their institution, and conduct a sessionA successful request of an online serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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). It is one cycle of user activities that typically starts when a user connects to the serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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) or databaseA 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 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) and ends by terminating activity that is either explicit (by leaving the serviceA branded group of online information products from one or more vendors that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete service, or at a lower level (e.g. a 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) through exit or logout) or implicit (timeout due to user inactivity), the consortiumThe 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) A group of institutions ("consortium members"), defined by a group of IP address ranges, for which collective and individual usage may be reported, and its member institutions (ICOLC Guidelines, October 2006)

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 consortiumThe 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) A group of institutions ("consortium members"), defined by a group of IP address ranges, for which collective and individual usage may be reported without permission, except to the consortiumThe 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) A group of institutions ("consortium members"), defined by a group of IP address ranges, for which collective and individual usage may be reported administrators and other member libraries, and to the original 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 and copyright holder of the content. Use of institutional or consortiumThe 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) A group of institutions ("consortium members"), defined by a group of IP address ranges, for which collective and individual usage may be reported 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. (Based on ICOLC Guidelines, October 2006).


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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