The first two blog posts on Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice focused on the usage analysis of journal content and book content. In the last post of the series, we will now turn to the analysis of database usage and look at the changes made in Release 5, and we will also give a glance to reporting on platform level.

Usage Analysis of Databases: Standard View DR_D1

For usage analysis databases, the Standard View DR_D1 “Database Search and Item Usage” is one of the two reports derived from the Database Master Report, the other one being DR_D2 “Database Access Denied”.

Standard View DR_D1 has search metrics and item level metrics

The Standard View DR_D1 presents the metric “Searches Regular,” which is the same as it was in Release 4. This metric is used for searches where a user has explicitly chosen a database to conduct a search. In contrast, “Searches Federated” counts searches performed with a single query through a federated search service, where the user has not chosen a specific database. Finally, “Searches Automated” reports searches run through a discovery layer or a similar technology. Federated and automated searches are now split into two separate metrics, whereas in Release 4 they were rolled up together into one single metric. The Result Click metric from Release 4 has been replaced by Total Item Investigations, and additionally, Total Item Requests are counted. We are already familiar with those metrics from the new Journals and Books Standard Views.

Key Metrics for Database Usage

Search metrics present a general overview on database usage, but the key metrics are those on the item level, because they help to get a deeper understanding of user behavior. The metric to choose depends on the type of database being analyzed. For non-full text, abstracting and indexing (A&I) databases, only Total Item Investigations are shown in the reports. For full text databases, where content can be accessed and downloaded, Total Item Requests are reported (although investigations are also counted).

Usage on Platform Level: Standard View PR_P1

Finally, there is one other Standard View to mention, which not only reports usage for databases, but is mandatory for all providers (that means also journal and book content providers). The Standard View PR_P1 “Platform Usage” is derived from the Platform Master Report. In the Platform Report PR_P1, Regular Searches and Searches Federated are rolled up into the metric Searches Platform. Again, we have Total and Unique Item Requests in the Platform Report that cover both book and journal usage, depending on the content delivered on the platform. Finally, the report also includes Unique Title Requests, but only if the provider is offering book content.

In a nutshell

  • DR_D1 shows three search metrics and two metrics on item level.
  • In DR_D1, Total Item Investigations apply to non-full text databases, Total Item Requests apply to full text databases.
  • PR_P1 shows an aggregated overview on usage across the platform of any given content provider.


With this look at database usage and platform reporting, we conclude our overview on Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice. We focused on those Standard Views that will play a major role in usage analysis of electronic resources and are suited to the most common needs of those in charge of collection management. However, there are still more reports to discover for the experts who need to go deeper. Find out more on COUNTER statistics and on Release 5 on the COUNTER website:

You can find more information on COUNTER statistics and on Release 5:


*All images by Irene Barbers. Reuse under the CC by 4.0 license. 


Author: Irene Barbers

Irene Barbers (M.A.LIS) is Head of Acquisitions at the Central Library of Forschungszentrum Juelich, one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers in Europe. She has a degree from the Technical University of Cologne, and not only works on license management and usage analysis, but also on the development of tools for monitoring the transition towards Open Access. Irene joined the COUNTER Executive Committee in 2015 and was a member of the Technical Sub-Group for the Development of Release 5. Twitter: @irene_barbers
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