How to Make Sense of your Institution’s Usage Through Multiple COUNTER 5 Metrics

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Should we care about three million searches a year in EBSCO databases? How to make sense of your institution’s usage through multiple COUNTER 5 metrics

Many studies in the e-resources field have focused on where users “start" their research and whether it involves the library. This presentation takes a different approach, considering the extent of usage across multiple e-resource platforms and examining where exactly (and when in the calendar year) usage is occurring. Comprehensive COUNTER 5 data visualizations from research universities across Ohio from an ongoing research project will be presented, comparing usage of e-resources across multiple platforms between 2019 and 2022. Using COUNTER’s investigation, request, and search metrics, results show that library-managed databases from EBSCO and the discovery layer receive more usage than platforms reachable via Google such as JSTOR, Wiley Online Library, and SpringerLINK. This presentation will explain the meaning of these findings and consider their implications for the role and importance of library-managed search tools in the workflows of faculty, staff, and students. A live demonstration with Tableau will also enable audience members to conduct a similar analysis using COUNTER data at their own institution.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

Explain how and why to use multiple COUNTER 5 usage metrics to understand overall usage, moving beyond sole use of the “item request” metric.
Apply knowledge of how to use tools like LibInsight and Tableau at their own institutions to visualize COUNTER 5 data and assess how their patrons are using subject databases, discovery layers, and publisher platforms such as SpringerLINK.
Think critically about the role and importance of library-managed subject databases and discovery layers in the research workflows of students and faculty, moving beyond sole consideration of where the end user starts their search.


Simon Robins is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Electronic Resources & Discovery at the University of Dayton. He manages all aspects of the life cycle of electronic resources to help ensure that the library's non-print items are discoverable and accessible to all students, faculty, and staff. His work includes cataloging/metadata, maintaining database access, assessment, and problem resolution. His current research focuses on usage of library discovery layers and subject databases, and how they impact usage of publisher platforms.

Academic library: 4 year and graduate; Academic library: 2 year
This webinar is presented in Eastern time.