Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction to IRUS-UK

What is IRUS-UK?

IRUS-UK is a national aggregation service which contains details of all content downloaded from participating UK institutional repositories (IRs). It follows on from the successful PIRUS2 project ( ), which demonstrated how COUNTER-conformant article-level usage statistics could be collected and consolidated from publishers and institutional repositories.

What are the aims?

IRUS-UK enables UK IRs to access and share comprehensive and comparable usage statistics using the COUNTER standard. The service collects usage data from participating repositories, processes the data into COUNTER-conformant statistics and then presents statistics back to originating repositories to be used in a variety of ways.

The service provides a nation-wide view of UK institutional repository use to help demonstrate the importance and value of IRs. The service also provides opportunities for benchmarking and acts as an intermediary between UK repositories and other agencies, e.g. OpenAIRE.

What does IRUS-UK contain?

IRUS-UK provides COUNTER-conformant usage statistics on items downloaded from participating repositories. It covers all item types within repositories.

How do I find out more about IRUS-UK?

Our website has an overview of the service and contact information if you want to get in touch. We speak about IRUS-UK at conferences, events and webinars. Further details of articles, presentations and webinar recordings can be found under the Activities menu. You can follow us on Twitter @irusnews.

Joining IRUS-UK

Is my repository eligible to join?

IRUS-UK is provided as a core service to Jisc members as part of their subscription. All members with institutional repositories are welcome to participate in IRUS-UK.

Participating repositories are listed at

We are currently working with DSpace, EPrints, Equella, Fedora, Figshare, Haplo, Pure and Worktribe repositories. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in working with us and you use or supply other repository software.

If your organisation is outside the UK higher education and research sector, please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss service options.

How can we join?

Contact us at if you are interested in joining IRUS-UK. Let us have details of the repository software that you use, the version and whether or not you have a hosted repository. We will then be able to advise on next steps.


How do you gather data?

We gather data using tracker code plugins and patches. We have patches available for DSpace (4.x, 5.x and 6.x). There are plug-ins available for EPrints (works with 3.2 or greater) and Haplo, and a Ruby Gem for Hydra/Samvera (Fedora) repositories. Figshare, Pure and Worktribe have also implemented tracker functionality for their repository software platforms. It's also possible to add tracker functionality to Equella.

We use a "push" mechanism whereby a notification is sent to the IRUS-UK server as an OpenURL key-value pair string every time a file is downloaded from a repository.

When do you gather data?

Data is stored in daily log files which are usually processed the following day. The data for each item are consolidated into daily statistics and are filtered to remove robots and double clicks. These daily statistics are then consolidated into monthly statistics, the traditional COUNTER granularity.

What statistics and reports are available?

The portal provides a number of different reports and data views together with an author/title search.

Reports can be generated in HTML, CSV or TSV formats.

Further information about each of these reports can be found here ( ).

We welcome your feedback on further developing these outputs.

Can I view downloads by school/department?

The only practical way for IRUS-UK to obtain school/department metadata related to individual items for each repository is to use the ‘ListSets’ mechanism which is included in the OAI-PMH. Having reviewed our current IRUS-UK repositories, some repositories do map their schools and departments to OAI Sets but many do not. In fact there are over 28,000 different ‘sets’ in use, and many of those define the status/subject/type of items rather than their affiliation. It’s not feasible to meet this requirement currently but we will continue to explore options to share downloads by set. In the meantime, if you would like to use this functionality in future we would recommend you check your repository configuration to ensure that you map your schools and departments into corresponding OAI Sets.

Can I view information and trends about article deposits?

IRUS-UK only captures information on items that have been used and we do not have mechanism for capturing information about deposits. IRUS's focus is on usage and so deposit information falls outside its scope.

How does IRUS-UK handle robots?

We remove entries from known robots appearing on the COUNTER robots list (found in Appendices I and J of the COUNTER Code of Practice ( ).

As repositories have joined IRUS-UK, we have identified other robots not on the COUNTER list and have started to compile an additional IRUS-UK list of robots. In order for this to be sustainable in the long term, we commissioned a piece of work to develop an adaptive filtering system ( ).

For further information see our position statement on the treatment of robots and unusual usage ( ).

Work on filtering robots is ongoing.

How does the data in IRUS-UK compare with that reported by other statistics products such as Google Analytics?

Different repository usage statistics packages produce data for different purposes. For example, IRStats provides information on what is downloaded from a repository and who is doing the downloads whereas Google Analytics aims to present a picture of visitor traffic. Each package will have a different set of criteria as to how they treat accesses by robots and “double clicks” and hence are likely to give different figures for total downloads.

IRUS-UK provides usage statistics on items downloaded from participating repositories in accordance with COUNTER guidelines ( ). The data provided by IRUS-UK are, therefore, comparable across all participating repositories.

How do IRUS-UK and IRStats2 differ?


EPrints stores accesses to its resources in a database table. IRStats2 processes the contents of this table. Typically a script is run each night which processes the new entries to the access table and updates the data used to produce reports.

IRStats2 has a set of filter plugins which are applied when processing the stats. The 'Repeat' filter measures multiple hits on the same resource and determines if these are likely to be a 'double-click' or similar. This in based on the same IP address requesting the same record within a configurable window, default 1 hour, although some set it to be 24 hours. The 'Robots' filter in the current release matches the user agent against a large static set of patterns, and filters out the accesses accordingly.

Recent work in this area now means there is a version which can also filter by a set of IP addresses, and an additional set of user agent patterns to match against.


IRUS-UK processes daily logs of raw download events gathered from participating repositories and generates COUNTER-conformant statistics.

When ingesting data:

During an audit review, the COUNTER auditors agreed that these appeared to be reasonable extra measures to remove robotic/rogue activity from our stats.

It should be noted that IRUS-UK benefits from having download data available from nearly two hundred repositories, making it possible to see the activity of an IP across all of those repositories; a handful of downloads may look legitimate when considering one repository, but can quickly become suspicious activity when viewed across dozens of repositories. This means that, as more repositories take part in IRUS-UK, this continues to improve the accuracy and reliability of the statistics provided.

If our repository is participating in IRUS-UK, do I need to provide our repository usage statistics to OpenAIRE?

No, you do not need to provide these as OpenAIRE harvest statistics from IRUS-UK. If you send usage statistics separately, OpenAIRE will be double counting.

Does IRUS-UK have an API?

Yes, we have an API. Please contact our helpdesk if you wish to explore its use.

How can I give feedback?

We are a community resource and welcome your comments and suggestions at any time. Please get in touch with our helpdesk at

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