COUNTER

I was a bit confused when I heard to term COUNTER compliant statistics because the word COUNTER has so many meanings. Could it be to do with those round disks you have use to go up ladders and down snakes in the board game?

roman gaming counter

“Glass mosaic counter or inlay” by Roman via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

 

Statistics is about counting, so that makes some sort of sense. It could not be a shop counter then,

lego counter

“View of counter” by Takanori Hayashi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

or a ticket counter, these are types of counter that help people to access something.

ticket counter

“Ticket Counter For Foreigner s” by Barney Moss is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

or how about a kitchen worktop, some people call those counters. They are things to facilitate tasks. In the kitchen.

butterflycounter

“Butterfly on a counter” by Helena Jacoba is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Or indeed, counter also means against, opposed to, so counter compliance must mean that it is statistics that is not compliant.

No, I reasoned, it must be something to do with counting.

clicker counter

“Counter” by Marcin Wichary is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

So after all my speculations I gave in and searched Google. I discovered that COUNTER is an acronym, as many things are these days. It stands for Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources. It is a standard code of practice that facilitates exchange of the usage data of e-resources. So, in plain terms, it means that when publishers count the number of views or downloads of a journal, book or database has had, they should save and organise that data in a standard format that can easily be shared with libraries that subscribe to the journals or have purchased a book. These are simple examples of a rather more sophisticated system.

According to the COUNTER Code of Practice the data are also arranged in standard reports, for example JR1 is a statistical report of all the views, downloads or attempted downloads an individual journal has had over a period of time – basically how many people have access the webpage for that journal. Similarly, BR1 is the statistical report of the number of views, downloads or attempted downloads of a book. There are a variety of other types of report as well.

Overall, COUNTER compliant statistics are a way of libraries being able to understand whether the e-resources that they have purchased or to which they subscribe are being actively used. In the day before electronically automated systems when physical books were stamped as they were borrowed, you could easily tell which were your most borrowed items. So, COUNTER is doing the same job, but better, because you could never count the number of times a book was looked at, a reference noted, a photocopy taken and returned to the shelf.

To learn more about this, visit the COUNTER project website where it explains things in more detail in a much better way.  However, I don’t think I was entirely wrong about COUNTER, it does include some of those other meanings. It counts people who are trying to read an article or book, it facilitates the work of librarians and publishers, it gives librarians access to data that they need to improve their electronic collections. It doesn’t serve cake though, which is a bit of a shame…

cake counter

“Sweet Counter” by terren in Virginia is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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JUSP Community Survey 2016

JUSP logo

One of Evidence Base’s bread and butter jobs is to conduct the annual user survey for JUSP, which is the Jisc specialist resource for university or further education college librarians. JUSP tells them about the use of on-line journals or e-books that they have purchased or to which they have subscribed. By using JUSP a librarian can find out whether a certain journal or e-book has been used and how many times. In the old days, when everything was paper it was easy to work out if books had been taken out of the library, and if journals were looking well thumbed, or still in pristine condition because no-one had looked at them. E-resources are a different, with all sorts of possible metrics available you can find out if something has or hasn’t been downloaded, and from which IP address. Of course, it does mean that someone, somewhere has to collect and collate that information. Briefly, JUSP works by using SUSHI to harvest COUNTER statistics and it will then give you reports about the resources used by your institution. Currently, JUSP has a “Journal” portal and an “e-book” portal. If you have no idea what SUSHI and COUNTER mean, don’t worry about it, they are simply a means to an end and I will devote whole posts to explaining them in the future. Meanwhile, back to the survey…

survey

We finished the JUSP community survey at the end of last December, and the full report is now ready to read here: http://jusp.jisc.ac.uk/news/jusp-community-survey-2016-report.pdf . The results of the report showed that JUSP is a much wanted resource for university and college librarians which adds value to their service, provides them with reliable data and saves them time (somewhere in the region of 7 hours work a month). One commented JUSP has a “hugely positive impact on staff time… freed up for analysis rather than finding and downloading data files”.  Many respondents thought that JUSP was vital to their service because without it they would have to take staff away from other tasks; one even thought that they would not use usage statistics any more if JUSP did not exist.

Of the journal statistics that JUSP can calculate, the most vital one appeared to be “Journal Report 1 (JR1)” which can tell you the number of requests there has been for one specific journal per month, over a period of time which you can select. Users of JUSP use the Journal portal statistics for a range of tasks:

  • Ad-hoc reporting
  • SCONUL reporting
  • Considering subscription renewals
  • Answering general enquiries
  • Finding evidence to prove access rights
  • General annual statistics
  • Evaluating deals with publishers
  • Benchmarking against organisations
  • To put a list of “top ten journals” on the website
  • To search for anomalies in their data

E-book portal is less used, it is still in development and does not contain statistics from many e-book suppliers used by many of the libraries. Librarians can get the statistics that they need directly from the publishers. However, respondents did think that e-book statistics are important and the ones who do use JUSPs e-book portal (just less than half the respondents) use Book Reports 2 and 3 (BR2, BR3) in order to find out the number of times an e-book has been requested per month over a selected period of time (BR2) or the number of times access has been denied to an e-book (BR3). When a library users asks for a certain e-book, only to discover that they cannot access it indicates that the library does not subscribe to or has not purchased that e-book. Librarians like to know this so that they can understand what their customers want. So, our respondents tolde-book us that they use e-book statistics for:

  • Collection development
  • Choosing which subscriptions to renew
  • To see how the full collection is being used
  • To make purchasing decisions
  • To calculate cost per download

Overall, the JUSP users were satisfied with the service that it provides and they praised the JUSP team for the support that it gives to users. Some very appreciative clients there, so university and  college librarians out there who are not using JUSP, take a look at it, you may benefit from its use.

UKSG Annual Conference 2013 #uksglive

UKSG conference

UKSG conference

This week some of Evidence Base staff attended the UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth. It was a packed conference schedule covering a variety of different topics – open access, discovery services, innovative technologies, patron driven acquisition, mobile technologies and more.

Some of the key themes which stood out to me included:

  • The need to improve dialogue between publishers and librarians

This was my first UKSG conference and I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of publishers and librarians. Quite often I have attended conferences where the exhibitors have felt very separate from delegates but this wasn’t the case at UKSG. Many of the publishers and exhibitors attended the sessions, the socials, as well as presenting (sharing some of their research or things they are working on rather than the traditional sales pitches). As the closing plenary speaker, T Scott Plutchak, highlighted, librarians and publishers have a shared goal of helping link people to information, and there’s a lot of information about users that both librarians and publishers find valuable. There does still seem to be a barrier though, and I think it old be beneficial to improve communication between librarians and publishers both at conferences and outside conferences.

  • Different business models for acquiring content

One of the stand out plenary sessions (everyone was talking about it!) was from a postgraduate medical student, Josh Harding. He demonstrated how he had moved completely paperless and does all his studying and activities out on medical practice through his iPad. I could relate to a lot of what he was saying (I’m writing this blog post on an iPad and made all my notes and tweets during the conference on either a tablet or mobile phone), but it’s great to hear about his workflow in detail. He uses a number of different apps to help him with his studies – for searching and accessing content (interactive textbooks, medical reference resources etc.), annotating, note taking and voice recording in lectures. He uses Inkling to download ebook chapters to his iPad and add annotations (using GoodReader) which he then stores in the cloud (Dropbox) and can access from any device. Sharing his experience caused many of the librarians and publishers at the conference to consider how to support this workflow.

We also heard from Coventry University who have worked with Ingram Coutts to provide all students with a pack of books to support their studies (and I had discussions with people about how to do something similar with electronic content such as giving students a tablet or e-reader with all the content preloaded) and there were a number of presentations and discussions about patron driven acquisition (PDA). It’s clear that the traditional business model which has been used for print materials is not fit for purpose for electronic materials, and it’s really interesting hearing about new developments to support models which may suit electronic content.

  • Importance of understanding the behaviours and workflows of our users 

There were a number of presentations and discussions about the information-seeking behaviours and the workflows of users. This is something that has always interested me, and it was good to see it covered during the conference as I think it’s something that spans across most of the delegates. Understanding more about this behaviour and user workflows helps libraries provide support throughout the process and helps publishers and other suppliers provide tools to help facilitate effective searching and content consumption. I was interested to hear about some of the research happening and hope there will be ways to continue to share this sort of information to help us better understand different types of user groups and how new developments are changing behavious (e.g. mobile devices).


There were of course many other things discussed at the conference (I was really impressed with how broad the coverage was), but these are the key ones that stood out to me. The conference gave me lots of food for thought and I’ve come away with plenty of ideas for things to follow up on and future topics for research. I of course also managed to get some conference goodies and very much enjoyed the conference dinner which included popcorn, candy floss, dodgems, hook a duck and laser quest in a massive inflatable maze (as all good conference dinners should!).