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The COUNTER Code of Practice

COUNTER’s library, vendor and content provider members have contributed to the development 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. The effective date for compliance with Release 5 is January 2019. The Transition Timeline and Transition Options graphics explains the detail.

 

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, host, 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 can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. has a contractual relationshipSee also “Content ProviderAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.”. A publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form or other online information provider who delivers licensed content to the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. 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, host, 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 can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. has a contractual relationshipSee also “Content ProviderAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.”. A publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form or other online information provider who delivers licensed content to the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. and with whom the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. 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, host, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form of the itemCollective term for content which is reported at a high level of granularity, e.g. “Full Text ArticleAn item of original written work published in a “Journal”, other serial publication, or in a “Book”. An “Article” is complete, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”.” (original or a review of other published work); an “AbstractA short summary of the content of an “Article” or “Content Item”. A detailed view of “Article” “Metadata” on an online host that includes the “Abstract” but does not include the full text of the item.  Accessing the “Abstract”/detailed view falls into the usage category of “investigation” (see “Investigation”).” 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, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”.”; a sectional HTMLArticleAn item of original written work published in a “Journal”, other serial publication, or in a “Book”. An “Article” is complete, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”. 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, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”.” (e.g. a supplementary data set), or non-textual resources, such as an image, a video, audio, dataset, piece of code, chemical structure or reaction. 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 content providers that can be subscribed to/licensed and searched as a complete group. For the COUNTER reporting is restricted to pre-set collections that are defined like “Databases”. See “Database”. Note a package or bundle provided by a publisher is not considered a “Database” or “Collection”. 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, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”.The 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, but usually cites other relevant published works in its list of “References”, if it has one. A COUNTER “Data_Type” used to identify and filter usage of content defined as “Articles”., plus links to any supplementary material published with it to the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. is the entity responsible for recording usage and reporting that usage to the customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. in COUNTER Reports, such as Journal 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 can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”., irrespective of whether they deliver the full text to that customerAn individual or organization that can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.. Under no circumstances may both publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, 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 can access a specified range of the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”.’s” services and/or content and is subject to terms and conditions agreed with the “Content providerAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information in electronic form and in doing so provides usage data. This includes organisations sometimes referred to as “Publishers”, “Vendors”, “Platforms” and/or “Intermediaries”. confidentiality

7.4.1 Privacy and userA person who accesses the online resource 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 userA person who accesses the online resource, the consortiumA group of institutions joining together to license content., 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 consortiumA group of institutions joining together to license content. without permission, except to the consortiumA group of institutions joining together to license content. administrators and other member libraries, and to the original publisherAn organization whose function is to commission, create, collect, validate, host, distribute and trade information online and/or in printed form and copyright holder of the content. Use of institutional or consortiumA group of institutions joining together to license content. 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 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.

 
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