An issue of great concern to librarians was a lack of comparable usage data delivered by publishers. Variations in definitions and implementation procedures made it difficult to compare data from different publishers with any degree of reliability. Different types of data were provided from different publisher platforms: what was counted (e.g., searches, abstracts displayed, HTML pages viewed, PDF documents downloaded) and how data was collected varied according to the software used. Librarians received reports with different data elements that were not clearly defined and that covered different time periods, making it difficult to analyze them in a consistent way.
Release 4 of the COUNTER Code of Practice for e-Resources is covering journals, databases, books and multimedia content. This means that all COUNTER compliant vendors are able to deliver usage statistics to libraries. All reports are delivered in XML structured format.
COUNTER proposes a code of practice and protocols covering the recording and exchange of online usage data so that librarians will have a better understanding of how their subscription information is being used, and publishers have standard data on how their products are being accessed. The constantly updated Codes of Practice (http://www.projectcounter.org/code_practice.html) recommend that vendors produce and the library use reports containing such variables as the “Number of Successful Full-Text Article Requests by Month and Journal,” “Turnaways by Month and Journal”, “Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Database,” and other reports.