We are frequently asked about COUNTER compliant stats, which are a standardised way for vendors and publishers to report on usage (for details see: https://www.projectcounter.org/about/).

Does OpenAthens provide COUNTER compliant stats?


Why not? 

We don't provide COUNTER compliant stats because we simply can't: what they cover and what we can count are very different things.

  • COUNTER covers things that happen after a user has gained access such as publications accessed and authors read. They can tell you a great deal about a defined set of elements, but only those elements.
  • OpenAthens reports on information about the user at the moment they are sent to the resource such as department, group, course - whatever you have chosen to set as reportable. We only see the users' activity at the moment they log in.

The only field common to both is 'Platform', and even that is not particularly consistent as not only can the name vary by location, it is quite common for a vendor to put all of their services and platforms behind the same SAML login - e.g. ScienceDirect, EngineeringVillage, and SCOPUS all appear to OpenAthens as one service called 'Elsevier Products'.

Even if you send the service in question richer information about the user as part of the login, and even if that service uses that data for things like personalisation, the COUNTER standard has no facility to include that information in its reports. There is, unfortunately, no effective way to link the data.

What about the eduPersonAnalyticsTag?

The eduPersonAnalyticsTag is a new SAML attribute that some providers are trialing as a way of getting data into the COUNTER stats that can be used to break them down by groupings supplied by the library via the login such as department or cohort, but specifically not anything that identifies the user. There is a limit of 127 characters. If you want to read the spec you can at https://wiki.refeds.org/display/STAN/eduPerson+2021-11#eduPerson202111-eduPersonAnalyticsTag

OpenAthens is, of course, capable of sending this attribute.

We do not have a list of which vendors support it, however Elsevier are known to be trialling it (https://service.elsevier.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/35507/supporthub/elsevieraccess/). If you get COUNTER stats from a vendor, you should ask them about it. 

If you have the data in an existing field in your schema

You can set up an alias in your release policy to send that data as the analytics tag attribute (urn:oid: If it's not already set as reportable in your schema, you'll probably want to do that too so you can match up the reports. 

For details about aliases, see the page on attribute release, but the short version is:

  1. Add a per-resource policy if you do not already have one for the resource
  2. Select Edit and tick the original attribute names that will be released
  3. Click on advanced and select the attribute you want to alias from the list in the box on the left
  4. Enter urn:oid: in the box on the right. 
  5. Click done and save.

If you don't have the data in an existing field in your schema

You'll need to create a field for it in the schema editor and populate it. If the data will be used in OpenAthens reporting, you will want a display name that makes sense there, but you can set the target name to be urn:oid: so that you don't have to alias it in the release policy. 

If you need to do something with multi-valued attributes such as send two group identifiers

If you are already sending the data as a multi-valued attribute from your local system, OpenAthens will keep is as a multi-valued attribute when you map it so all you will need to do is map it and / or alias it and release it.

If you are not using a local connector and/or have two different attributes to use, you can alias them both to urn:oid: in your release policy and they will be released as a multi-valued attribute.

You cannot specify the order of multi-value attributes in SAML, so if they are not clearly different (e.g. one is text, one is a number) you will want to make them so in the data - e.g. "dept: Physics" instead of just "Physics"