Using Data Analytics to Drive Strategy for Corporate Customers

In January 2019, COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) updated its code of practice from Release 4 (C4) to Release 5 (C5). According to the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice is “designed to balance changing reporting needs with the need to make things simpler, so that all content providers can achieve compliance and librarians can have usage statistics that are credible, consistent, and comparable.”

In part-two of our three-part series around COUNTER updates, we’re answering some of the questions we’ve received about these updates.

When Will We Start Seeing COUNTER 5 Usage Reports?

COUNTER-compliant publishers were expected to begin providing COUNTER release 5 usage reports starting in January 2019, meaning the first COUNTER 5 reports are likely to be issued in February 2019 after the first month of usage (January) is completed. From January through April 2019, publishers must provide COUNTER 4 reports in addition to COUNTER 5 reports.

What are the Main Differences Between COUNTER 4 and COUNTER 5?

There are many differences between COUNTER 4 and COUNTER 5, including a major reduction in the number of reports and the concept of master reports. The most important difference for information managers is the change in metric types that are used to count usage. Let’s dig into these changes a bit more.

Updated Reports

COUNTER 5 reduces the overall number of reports by replacing many of the “special-purpose” reports with four Master Reports. All COUNTER R4 reports have either been renamed or eliminated in favor of R5 Master Report or Standard View options.

New Usage Types: Journal Reporting

The current Journal Report 1 (JR1) will be renamed to Journal Request report and will be updated to reflect new metrics. The COUNTER 4 usage metrics for journals are HTML Views and PDF Downloads. In COUNTER 5, HTML and PDF will no longer be tracked, and instead Unique Item Requests and Total Item Requests will be the tracked metric.

  • Unique Item Requests are defined as “the number of unique content items requested by the user.” Requests can include HTML views and PDF downloads.
  • Total Item Requests are defined as “the total number of times the full text of a content item was downloaded or viewed.”

New Usage Types: Database Reporting

The Database Report 1 (DB1) report will be renamed to Database Usage report and updated to reflect new metrics. COUNTER 4 reported the following metrics: Regular Searches, Searches – Federated and Automated, Result Clicks, and Record Views. COUNTER 5 will continue to report Regular Searches, but will separate Federated and Automated Searches into their own metrics. Total Item Investigations will replace Result Clicks and Record Views.


Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we will discuss the importance of usage reporting for information managers and ways to leverage usage data when defending the library and the resources it provides to the organization. To learn more about COUNTER, you can visit their website at

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Author: Casey Pickering

Casey Pickering is a Product Marketing Manager in CCC’s Publisher Business Unit. Casey develops go-to-market strategies, conducts market research, creates customer personas, drives strategic marketing efforts, and develops product positioning to drive interest in our product offerings. A passionate Boston sports fan, Casey is a graduate of Northeastern University and enjoys spending time outside with her family including her Bernese Mountain Dog, Riggins.
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