ICOLC Guidelines

Statistical Measures of Usage of Web-Based Indexed, Abstracted, and Full Text Resources (November 1998)

1. Requirements

Each use element defined below should be able to be delineated by the following subdivisions:

  • by specific database provider
  • by each institutionally defined set of IP addresses/locators to subnet level
  • by total consortium
  • by special data element passed by subscriber (e.g., account or ID number)
  • by time period. Vendor’s system should minimally report by month. For each month, each type of use should be reported by hour of the day, and vendor should maintain 24 months of historical data.

Use elements that must be provided are:

  • Number of queries/searches categorized as appropriate for the vendor’s information. A search is intended to represent a unique intellectual inquiry. Typically a search is recorded each time a search form is sent/submitted to the server. Subsequent activities to review or browse among the records retrieved or the process of isolating the correct single item desired do not represent additional searches, unless the parameter(s) defining the retrieval set is modified through resubmission of the search form, a combination of previous search set, or some other similar technique.
  • Number of menu selections categorized as appropriate to the vendor’s system. If display of data is accomplished by browsing (use of menus), this measure must be provided (e.g., an electronic journal site provides alphabetic and subject-based menu options in addition to a search form. The number of searches and the number of alphabetic and subject menu selections should be tracked).
  • Number of sessions (logins), if relevant, must be provided as a measure of simultaneous use. It is not a substitute for either query or menu selection counts.
  • Number of turnaways, if relevant, as a contract limit (e.g., requests exceed simultaneous user limit).
  • Number of items examined (viewed, marked or selected, downloaded, emailed, printed) to the extent these can be recorded and controlled by the server rather than the browser.
    • Citations displayed for A&I databases
    • Full text displayed by title, ISSN with title listed or other title identifier as appropriate.
      1. Tables of Contents displayed
      2. Abstracts displayed
      3. Articles or essays, poems, chapters, etc., as appropriate viewed (e.g., ASCII or HTML) or downloaded (e.g., PDF, email)
      4. Other (e.g., image/AV files, ads, reviews, etc., as appropriate)

2. Privacy and user confidentiality

Statistical reports or data that reveal confidential information about individual users must not be released or sold by information providers without permission of the consortium and its member libraries.

3. Institutional or consortial confidentiality

Providers do not have the right to release or sell statistical usage information about specific institutions or the consortium without permission, except to the consortium administrators and member libraries. Use of institutional or consortium data as part of an aggregate grouping of similar institutions for purposes of comparison does not require prior permission as long as specific institutions or consortia are not identifiable. When required by contractual agreements, information providers may furnish institutional use data to the content publishers.

4. Comparative statistics

Information providers should provide comparative statistics that give consortia a context in which to analyze statistics at the aggregate institutional (consortium member) level. For example, a grouping for purposes of comparison should be compiled by the information provider (e.g., statistics from an anonymous selection of similar institutions), or it might be a grouping composed on demand (e.g., statistics from all campuses in a consortium, presented either anonymously or not, as desired by the participating institutions).

5. Access / Delivery mechanisms / Report formats

Access to statistical reports should be provided via web-based reporting systems and be restricted by IP address or another form of security such as passwords. Institutions should be able to authorize access to their data by other institutions in the consortium if they desire. Information providers should maintain access to tabular statistical data through their web site (updated monthly) which a participant can access, aggregate and manipulate on demand. When appropriate, these data also should be available in flat files containing specified data elements that can be downloaded and manipulated locally. Information providers are also encouraged to present data as graphs and charts.