Purpose. To provide an update on COUNTER, the international organisation that is developing and maintaining a Code of Practice that has set standards for the recording and reporting of vendor‐generated usage statistics for online products. Design/methodology/approach. COUNTER has built on a number of existing industry initiatives. Release 1 of the COUNTER Code of Practice, focusing on journals and databases, was published in January 2003. Based on customer feedback, this Code of Practice is being refined and extended. Work has also begun on a Code of Practice covering e‐books and e‐reference works. Findings. Since it was published in January 2003, the COUNTER Code of Practice has been widely adopted by vendors. It is estimated that over 50 per cent of the annual output of articles covered by the Science Citation Index are in COUNTER‐compliant journals. On the whole, both librarians and vendors have indicated that the role of COUNTER should be to provide a core set of basic, reliable usage reports. Research limitations/implications. COUNTER is in the very early stages of implementation. The usage reports are not being audited in 2004, but from 2005 they will be, which will further increase confidence in their reliability. Practical implications. Reliable usage statistics will allow librarians to better assess the value of online publications, and will allow publishers to evaluate the effectiveness of different delivery channels. Originality/value. COUNTER is the first initiative to set practical international standards for the recording and reporting of vendor‐generated usage statistics.
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