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COUNTER: making statistics useful. Peter Shepherd Director COUNTER January 2007. Background. Understanding usage Different approaches Role of usage statistics Usage statistics Should enlighten rather than obscure Should be practical Should be reliable Are only part of the story

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counter making statistics useful

COUNTER: making statistics useful

Peter Shepherd



January 2007

  • Understanding usage
    • Different approaches
    • Role of usage statistics
  • Usage statistics
    • Should enlighten rather than obscure
    • Should be practical
    • Should be reliable
    • Are only part of the story
    • Should be used in context
  • How can usage statistics help us measure…
    • Success?
    • Value?
    • Behaviour?
counter codes of practice
COUNTERCodes of Practice
  • Definitions of terms used
  • Specifications for Usage Reports
    • What they should include
    • What they should look like
    • How and when they should be delivered
  • Data processing guidelines
  • Auditing
  • Compliance
  • Maintenance and development of the Code of Practice
  • Governance of COUNTER
counter current codes of practice
COUNTER: current Codes of Practice
  • 1) Journals and databases
    • Release 1 Code of Practice launched January 2003
    • Release 2 published April 2005 replacing Release 1 in January 2006
    • Now a widely adopted standard by publishers and librarians
    • 60%+ of Science Citation Index articles now covered
    • Librarians use it in collection development decisions
    • Publishers use it in marketing to prove ‘value’
  • 2) Books and reference works
    • Draft Code of Practice published in February 2005 for comment
    • Final version incorporating feedback was launched March 2006
    • Relevant usage metrics less clear than for journals
    • Different issues than for journals
      • Direct comparisons between books less relevant
      • Understanding how different categories of book are used is more relevant
journal and database code of practice
Journal and Database Code of Practice

Usage Reports

  • Journal Report 1
    • Full text article requests by month and journal
  • Journal Report 2
    • Turnaways by month and journal
  • Database Report 1
    • Total searches and sessions by month and database
  • Database Report 2
    • Turnaways by month and database
  • Database Report 3
    • Searches and sessions by month and service
code of practice for books
Code of Practice for books
  • Book Report 1
    • Number of successful requests by month and title
  • Book Report 2
    • Number of successful section requests by month and title
  • Book Report 3
    • Turnaways by month and title
  • Book Report 4
    • Turnaways by month and service
  • Book Report 5
    • Total searches and sessions by month and title
  • Book Report 6
    • Total searches and sessions by month and service
journal report 1 full text article requests by journal
Journal Report 1Full text article requests by journal

Html and PDF totals reported separately

counter deriving metrics from journal report 1
COUNTER: deriving metrics from Journal Report 1
  • Local metrics
    • For libraries and library consortia
    • At journal, collection and publisher level
    • To compare the cost-effectiveness of journal subscriptions
    • To assess the value of Big Deals
  • Global metrics
    • For authors, funding agencies, libraries and publishers
    • At article, journal, collection and publisher level
    • To compare quality and value
counter local metrics
COUNTER: ‘local’ metrics
  • JISC (UK Joint Information Systems Committee)
    • Funded by UK higher education funding councils
    • Supports higher education in the use of information and communications technologies
      • Access to information and communication resources
      • Advice on creation and preservation of digital archives
      • Implications of using ICT
      • Network services and support
      • Research to develop innovative solutions
  • National overview of online journal usage
    • Develop a reliable, widely applicable methodology
    • Use COUNTER Journal Report 1 ‘article full-text requests’
local metrics jisc project
Local metrics: JISC Project
  • COUNTER data was analysed in relation to:
    • usage range
    • Price band
    • Subject category
  • Metrics derived from this analysis
    • Trend in number of full-text article requests
    • Full text article requests per title
    • Full text article requests per publisher package
    • Full text article requests per FTE user
    • Most requested titles
    • Usage of subscribed vs.. unsubscribed titles
    • Cost per full-text article request
    • Cost per FTE user
  • Summary report available at:

local metrics jisc project11
Local metrics: JISC project
  • Growth in article downloads
    • Publisher A: 12%- 208%
    • Publisher B: 12%- 59%
    • Publisher C: 23%- 154%
    • Publisher D: 22%- 81%
  • Cost per download
    • Publisher A: £0.97- £5.26
    • Publisher B: £0.70 - £2.91
    • Publisher C: £0.80 - £3.29
    • Publisher D: £0.45 - £2.26
counter global metrics
COUNTER: ‘global’ metrics
  • Impact Factor
    • Well-established, easily understood and accepted
    • Endorsed by funding agencies and researchers
    • Does not cover all fields of scholarship
    • Reflects value of journals to researchers
    • Over-emphasis on IF distorts the behaviour of authors
    • Over-used, mis-used and over-interpreted
  • Usage Factor
    • Usage-based alternative perspective
    • Would cover all online journals
    • Would reflect value of journals to all categories of user
    • Would be easy to understood
global metrics uksg project
Global metrics: UKSG Project
  • Assess the feasibility of developing and implementing journal Usage Factors
    • Level of support from author, librarian and publisher communities
    • Data from which UF would be derived
      • COUNTER Journal Report 1?
      • Article numbers
      • Process for consolidation, calculation and reporting of UFs
    • Factors in the calculation
      • Level of reporting
      • Total usage
      • Articles
  • Report in April 2007
    • Just completed set of 29 interviews with industry leaders
    • Wider online survey will take place in February 2007
uksg project feedback
UKSG Project: feedback
  • Are the COUNTER usage statistics sufficiently robust?
  • Frustration at lack of comparable, quantitative data on journals
  • Should items covered by restricted to articles?
  • Many journals still have significant usage in print
  • Diversity of views on the factors in the calculation
    • Specified usage period
    • Specified publication period
  • Usage data is more susceptible to manipulation
  • Will the journal be a meaningful concept in the future?
  • Two measures with different limitations are better than one, and UF will be derived from a set of credible, understandable data
  • Usage data will be used as a measure of value, whether publishers like it or not
current issues
Current issues
  • Interface and user behaviour effects on usage statistics
    • E.g. downloading HTML and PDF of the same article in one session
    • COUNTER is testing data filter solutions, but what does the duplicate downloading signify?
  • Reporting separately purchasable digital archive usage
    • Currently all usage for a journal is usually reported together
    • Separately purchasable archives mean we need separate reports for archival content, or a year of publication breakdown of usage
  • Usage in Institutional Repositories
    • Growth in Institutional Repository (IR) content
    • Need for credible IR usage statistics
    • IR usage statistics already being collected, but no standards
  • What to count and what not to count:-
    • How to deal with partial open access journals
    • How to deal with journals whose content becomes free after a fixed time period
new development sushi
New Development - SUSHI
  • Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI)
    • No mechanism yet for automatically retrieving, combining, and storing COUNTER usage data from different sources
    • NISO-sponsored XML-based SUSHI aims to provide a means to do just this, via a standard model for machine to machine automation of statistics harvesting.
    • COUNTER and NISO have signed an agreement to work together on the development of SUSHI. More details of SUSHI can be found at:-

  • Also known as:
    • Federated search
    • Broadcast search
  • User presented with a single search interface
  • Searches multiple information sources at same time
  • Eliminates (or assists with) resource selection
  • Retrieve, consolidates and ranks results
  • A new challenge for statistics
metasearch a new challenge
Metasearch: a new challenge
  • What can be affected
    • Session counts
    • Search counts
  • Why?
    • “Search all” option or automatic selection/search of many resources
    • Perform simultaneous activities
    • Optimization techniques
  • Google, and other services are introducing prefetching of links to improve performance
  • How it works…
    • A user performs a search that results in a number of results.
    • Google will introduce <link> tags for the first few to cause the browser to fetch in the background
    • The prefetched pages are loaded into browser cache
  • If the results were links to publisher full text then:
    • Each prefetch is a full text request
    • When the user does click the link, another header request is made, that could be considered yet another full text request
    • Without some kind of control, this activity could result in significant over-counting
  • The prefetch action is identified in the HTTP header of the request
  • Vendors can change systems to recognize prefetch and do one of:
    • Simply return an error (don’t deliver full text), the end user does not see this error, or
    • Fulfill the request, but do not count the transaction
usage statistics measuring value
Usage statistics: measuring value
  • JISC Project has identified some basic metrics derived from COUNTER data
    • Trend in number of full-text article requests
    • Full text article requests per title
    • Full text article requests per publisher package
    • Full text article requests per FTE user
    • Usage of subscribed vs. unsubscribed titles
    • Cost per full-text article request
    • Differences between subject fields
  • But….
    • Limited to data from COUNTER-compliant vendors
    • Does not distinguish between different types of usage
usage statistics measuring success
Usage statistics: measuring success
  • Impact Factor
    • Widely used as a measure of ‘success’ for a journal
    • But…
      • Citation habits vary across different scientific fields
      • Citation patterns depend on journal type
      • Do not cover all journals
  • Usage Factor?
    • An alternative measure
    • Relevant in applied fields, where citation levels are lower
    • But….
      • Requires global usage statistics
      • Requires universal adoption of the same standards
usage statistics measuring behaviour
Usage statistics: measuring behaviour
  • Usage of different components of the journal
    • TOC, abstract, full-text, references
  • Variations between fields
    • Physics, medicine
  • Variations between institutes
    • Academic
      • Teaching, research, etc
      • Between departments
    • Industrial
counter membership
COUNTER Membership
  • Member Categories and Annual Fees (2007)
    • Publishers/intermediaries: £530
    • Library Consortia: £355
    • Libraries: £265
    • Industry organization: £265
    • Library affiliate: £106 (non-voting member)
  • Benefits of full membership
    • Owner of COUNTER with voting rights at annual general meeting, etc.
    • Regular bulletins on progress
    • Opportunity to receive advice on implementation

Apply for COUNTER membership

for more information
For more information……….

Thank you!

Peter Shepherd, COUNTER