Distributed Usage Logging

Distributed Usage Logging collaboration

Researchers are increasingly using “alternative” (non-publisher) platforms to store, access and share literature, e.g. via:

  • Institutional and subject repositories
  • Aggregator platforms (EBSCOhost, IngentaConnect)
  • Researcher-oriented networking sites (e.g. Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Mendeley)
  • Reading environments and tools (e.g. ReadCube, Utopia Docs)

Use of content on these platforms is by researchers who also have access to the same content via institutional subscription agreements. However, publishers are unable to report this use in their COUNTER-compliant reports, because it does not occur on their own platforms. This means:

  • Publishers are unable to demonstrate the full value of their content to library customers. They are also unable to provide authors will a full picture of usage of their articles
  • Because use is distributed, institutions do not have a complete picture of usage

The Distributed Usage Logging collaboration was established as an R&D experimental initiative between COUNTER, Crossref members, and scholarly technology & service providers. The initiative, driven by the DUL working group, has explored and implemented private peer-to-peer channels for the secure exchange and processing of COUNTER-compliant private usage records from hosting platforms to publishers. All data provided back to the original publisher is anonymized, preserving individual user privacy.

Current status

In November 2020, Crossref decided to scale down its involvement in DUL and is currently seeking a new lead organisation for the project. In our view, other organisations are better-placed to expand the project and increase participation, building on the proof-of-concept that has been implemented. We will, however, continue to collect DUL endpoints included in metadata deposits by our members.


For general questions on DUL, please contact Martyn Rittman.

Page owner: Martyn Rittman   |   Last updated 2020-November-24