IRUS (Institutional Repository Usage Statistics) is a standards-based statistics aggregation service, enabling participating institutions to share and compare information about usage of items in their institutional and research data repositories. Conforming to the COUNTER standard, statistics are consistent and comparable to enable benchmarking of repository usage across institutional repositories. A requirement for usage data to support and demonstrate the impact of institutional repositories, and their role within the open access landscape, requires that these data be reliable and comparable - regionally, nationally and internationally - regardless of platform. IRUS supports this requirement as it is platform agnostic.
Previously focussed purely on usage of institutional repositories, COUNTER-conformant download metrics for research data held in research data repositories are available as part of the core service from 2020. Currently, statistics for both institutional and data repositories conform to Release 5 (R5) of the COUNTER Code of Practice. It is recognised that usage of research data follows different patterns and so IRUS plans to explore use of the COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data to support research data repository requirements. This work is dependent on development of a revised and updated version of the COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data, due to commence in autumn 2021.
The standards-based approach that IRUS-UK initially pioneered is easily replicable and has been adopted more broadly. As such, IRUS-UK is now part of a family of services that include instances for CORE, OpenAIRE, University of Amsterdam, IRUS-ANZ and OAPEN.
Data transmission: repository software and the Tracker protocol
IRUS gathers data using the tracker protocol. Devised in collaboration with COUNTER, the specification of the COUNTER Release 5 tracker is simple and straightforward.
The Tracker can be deployed via plugins and patches. There are a number of repository platforms currently offering IRUS functionality including: EPrints, DSpace, Pure portal, Fedora (Samvera), Worktribe, Figshare, Haplo, Equella and Esploro. Each participating repository, or their platform vendor, is responsible for implementing the Tracker. Although not an onerous task, it is assumed that repositories have the requisite technical skills or access to technical support to implement this for themselves.
COUNTER Release 5 supports recording of information about metadata views in addition to downloads of full text items (Investigations and Requests). Several repository suppliers have implemented the new version of the Tracker, including: EPrints, DSpace, Worktribe, Figshare, Haplo and Esploro. Work to integrate IRUS as part of the DSpace 7 core codebase is now complete. This will be available through the beta version of DSpace 7 initially, followed by a full launch (dependent on DSpace timescales).
The COUNTER R5 Tracker has not yet been deployed for Pure portal. As work is dependent on Elsevier's timescale, Pure users are advised to continue to lobby for integration via their Pure user group.
Where repository platforms do not currently offer tracker functionality, it is anticipated that Jisc will liaise with the relevant platform provider supported by and in collaboration with the local partner and community to progress this.
Data ingest and processing
Whenever a file is downloaded from a participating repository with the tracker protocol in operation, a message is sent to the IRUS server with some details about the download. Data are filtered to remove robots, rogue usage and double clicks, and processed into COUNTER-conformant statistics. We follow the guidance in the Processing Rules for Underlying COUNTER Reporting Data in the COUNTER Release 5 Code of Practice.
IRUS has undertaken research into the use of item types in regular use by repositories, including comparing existing policies and guidelines, to define the item types to be used in the service. Over the years, amendments have been made and we continue to monitor and revise these on an ongoing basis. For relevant details view the IRUS Item types policy.
Statistics start from the point at which IRUS successfully receives data from the participating institutional repository. The ingest and processing of historical data is not included as part of the standard service, although options for incorporating historical data can be explored. Where feasible to do so, this can be provided at an additional cost if required.
Usage data provided via the R5 service dates from January 2020. Repository usage statistics are accessible via the IRUS web portal, APIs and widgets.
IRUS provides a range of usage statistics reports that are COUNTER-conformant (i.e., that follow the COUNTER Code of Practice for Release 5) as well as metadata reports and views. The web portal is openly accessible.
The IRUS APIs enable machine to machine exchange of statistics from COUNTER to stats snippets which can be embedded into repositories and web pages. An institution specific key is required to use this service.
The IRUS widgets enable service users to easily embed IRUS stats into their institutional repositories without the need for coding skills or technical expertise. As with the APIs, an institution specific key is required to use this feature.