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Release 5: changes from Draft 1 to Draft 2 of the COUNTER

Changes from Draft 1

Draft 1 of Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice (CoP) was published in January 2017. Engagement with our consultation process, has helped us to improve and refine the draft COUNTER Code of Practice Release 5. These changes are reflected here.

Item Change
Is_Archive attribute Is_Archive has been dropped as an attribute. Feedback indicated that this was difficult for publishers to capture this attribute in their reporting systems and there was lack of consistency in how this attribute would be applied. Librarians will be able to use reports that include the year of publication (YOP) breakdowns to track usage from content in backfiles and years with perpetual access rights.
Access_Type attribute The values for the Access_Type attribute have been simplified and their use clarified. Values are now:

  • Controlled
  • OA_Delayed (for future use only*)
  • OA_Gold
  • Other_Free_To_Read**


* OA_Delayed is included in this draft but MUST NOT be implemented until a future date. Until that date (determined through the formal process as dictated by the Continuous Maintenance procedures in this CoP), publishers will include counts for usage of content that is delayed open access under the Access_Type of “Controlled”.


** Other_Free_To_Read is only to be reported by Repositories. Publishers MUST NOT categorize usage as “Other_Free_To_Read”. Publishers will report usage of promotional articles and other non-OA_Gold freely accessible content under the Access Type of “Controlled”.

Metric_Types Added text and graphics to further clarify “investigations” and “requests” and how they relate.


Added more explanations to clarify the intention of “unique_item” and “unique_title” metrics.

Report Section of this document The way reports are documented have been updated to clarify that COUNTER reports are comprised of 4 “Master Reports” (one each for Platforms, Databases, Titles and Items) with several pre-set filters which are referred to as “Standard Views”. The Views have changed as well as the Report_IDs.
Report Header Elements Report_Description has been removed from the header. The Report_Name will be more descriptive.


Created_By element has been added to the header to reflect the organization/system that created the report. In most cases a COUNTER report will be Created_By the publisher or aggregator; however, there are cases where a COUNTER report might be Created_By a usage consolidation service. This new element serves to identify the source of the usage report.

Standard Reports (Views) The list of standard reports has been changed to allow librarians to run reports that are simpler to use (fewer rows) that align better with their intended purpose.


Platform Usage Standard Views

  • Platform Usage


Database Usage Standard Views

  • Database Search and Item Usage
  • Database Access Denied


Title Usage Standard Views

  • Book Requests (Non-Gold_OA)
  • Book Access Denied
  • Book Usage by Access Type
  • Journal Requests (Non-Gold_OA)
  • Journal Access Denied
  • Journal Usage by Access Type
  • Journal Requests (Non-Gold_OA) by YOP


Item Usage Standard Views

  • Article Requests
  • Multimedia Item Requests
Database Reports Removed the reference to “Collections” since in most cases they are not organized as discrete groups of content or access. Databases are not only sold as a bundle of content, they are also searched as a bundled and content accessed from that bundle such that activities related to search, investigations and requests can be unambiguously attributed to the databases. Note that multimedia providers that offer collections that are not organized as databases would be expected to provide the Item Usage Report to report usage at the multimedia item level.
Item Usage Reports Clarified that Item Usage Reports are only REQUIRED for Repositories and Multimedia sites.
Provider Discovery Reports These have been removed from Draft 2 because of their potential complexity. Further research is needed to better understand the need. COUNTER will publisher a separate draft recommendation and facilitate discussions.
Data_Type attribute The list of valid data types has been expanded to include:

  • Thesis or Dissertation
  • Newspaper or Newsletter
  • Report
  • Other
Section_Type attribute This list of valid section types has been expanded to include:

  • Appendix
  • Index
  • Journal Home Page
  • Table of Contents
Report Interface and Delivery Clarified that tabular reports MUST be available via a web interface. Date range for usage will default to the most recent month for which  a complete month’s usage is available. Master Reports may include an option to “Exclude Monthly Details” and provide only “Reporting Period Total” column. The reporting web interface MUST support Master Reports and allow users to set filters and other configuration options as specified in the CoP. Standard Views MUST be provided via the report interface and MUST automatically set the applicable filters and configuration options and users MUST NOT be able to change these options, with the exception of usage dates.


Feedback we are unable to incorporate

Additional requests and feedback were received during the consultation period but, for various reasons these suggestions could not be incorporated.

Suggestion Discussions
Include zero usage in COUNTER reports. Including zero usage would greatly increase the size of reports but aside from that, it is not practical for many publishers to provide the integration between their usage report and access control services needed to determine zero usage titles.  COUNTER is a sponsor of the NISO KBART-Automation initiative which will provide libraries with a method of retrieving holdings data that could then be combined with usage data to identify content that was not used.
Include article counts for journals and include count of OA article Including article counts in COUNTER reports was determined to be too challenging for most publishers.
Make headers optional for tabular reports or put in separate worksheet Header is important component of report as it clearly identifies what is in the report. A blank line has been added between the header and body and that makes it very easy to sort and filter stats and create pivot tables. Both Excel and Google-Sheets have “Freeze Pane” options that allow easy scrolling. Creation of a script to remove the header can be done and could be a tool made available for the community via Usus.
Include “Sessions” as a metric type. Unfortunately, due to the distributed nature of content and content sites combined with the introduction of discovery services and federated searches, it is not possible to accurately track “sessions” from the content provider’s site.
Retain PDF and HTML metric types HTML and PDF were introduced as a way to understand user interface behavior (if HTML shows automatically on the article page, then HTML counts are much higher than PDF which MUST be clicked.) Unfortunately, there are many more formats Mime-Types that could be delivered so the HTML PDF metrics are merely a sampling of behaviour. New metric types of “total_item_requests” and “unique_item_requests” provide a more comprehensive and accurate way of monitoring the interface effect.

Studies by three different content providers has demonstrated that the “total_item_requests” count will be the same as “ft_total” on COUNTER R4. “unique_item_requests” were typically 10 – 15% higher than “ft_pdf” counts, but about 20% lower than “total_item_requests”.  Therefore, for libraries that prefer to use “ft_total” for their cost per use, can continue to get the same numbers using “total_item_requests”; and, librarians that prefer to use “ft_pdf” for their cost per use, the “unique_item_requests” provides a similar but more accurate number.



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