Librarians and consortia managers spend considerable amounts of money funding open access materials and licensing different types of online content, and want to measure return on the investment to ensure that budgets are spent as productively as possible. One of the ways to measure this return on investment is to assess usage statistics.

This release of the COUNTER Code of Practice is designed to balance changing reporting needs with the need to make things simpler so that all report providers can achieve compliance and report consumers can have usage statistics that are credible, consistent and comparable.

Consistency in report formats

Release 5.1 consists of four COUNTER Reports. Each of the COUNTER Reports is associated with several pre-set filtered Standard Views of the COUNTER Report, but we encourage report consumers to use COUNTER Reports to customize their analysis and meet their specific reporting needs.

Consistency and clarity in metrics

Release 5.1 maintains the Release 5 Metric Types, which ensure comprehensive, consistent and detailed usage reporting.


Flexibility is built into Release 5.1 through Attributes, pieces of information which can be associated with multiple metrics. Providing information about matters such as Year of Publication, Access_Type, and Data_Types means that users can roll up or drill down through reports with ease, eliminating the need for special purpose reports.

How do I use this Code of Practice?

This online version is the version of record for Release 5.1 of the Code of Practice, which can also be downloaded as a PDF. More information is available from the COUNTER website.

The Code of Practice will be of interest to both report providers and report consumers, however some sections are more relevant to particular user cases.

Sections 1 and 2 provide an introduction and outline of the scope of the COUNTER Code of Practice.

Sections 3 and 4 provide an explanation of the COUNTER Reports and Standard Views of the COUNTER Reports which are a requirement for COUNTER-compliance and that allow the report consumer to filter and configure to create customized “views” of their usage data. Section 3 also explains Metric Types and Attributes.

Report Providers implementing Release 5.1

Sections 5 to 7 provide essential information. These sections give detail on the delivery of COUNTER-compliant reports and views, logging usage and processing rules.

COUNTER compliance requires content hosts to implement COUNTER_SUSHI (the standardised model for harvesting online usage data). Section 8 provides the specifications for the RESTful COUNTER_SUSHI API and the methods that must be supported. Appendix D explains handling errors and exceptions.

Report Providers preparing for COUNTER audit

An important feature of the COUNTER Code of Practice is that compliant report providers must be independently audited on a regular basis in order to maintain their COUNTER compliant status. If you are preparing for a COUNTER audit, Section 9 explains the audit process and procedures, while Appendix E explains audit requirements and tests.