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, IRUS-UK is a Jisc-funded repository and infrastructure service.

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 aims to provide a nation-wide view of UK institutional repository use to help demonstrate the importance and value of IRs. The service will also provide opportunities for benchmarking and act as an intermediary between UK repositories and other agencies, e.g. global central clearinghouse, national shared services, Research Councils, SCONUL, 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.

PIRUS2 worked with a limited number of item types (article, book chapter, book section, conference or workshop item, dataset, manual, other, presentation, report, technical report, thesis or dissertation, working paper) to which all other item types were mapped. IRUS-UK continued to use these item types but, following research into guidelines on and actual usage of item types ( ), we are now using the following set of item types:

Art/Design Item; Article; Audio; Book; Book Section; Conference or Workshop Item - Other; Conference Papers /Posters; Conference Proceedings; Dataset; Exam Paper; Image; Learning Object; Moving Image; Music/Musical Composition; Other; Patent; Performance; Preprint, Report; Show/Exhibition; Text; Thesis or Dissertation; Unknown; Website; Working Paper.

In each case, the original item type is stored so that this list can be expanded or modified over time.

Who is responsible for developing IRUS-UK?

IRUS-UK is being developed by a consortium involving Jisc Mimas, Cranfield University and Evidence Base at Birmingham City University.

What is its scope and which repositories are involved?

All UK institutional repositories are welcome to participate in IRUS-UK.

A pilot group of repositories was involved in the initial stage of the project. Participation is now open to all interested UK repositories. Participating repositories are listed at We are successfully receiving download activity data from these repositories and currently hold data from July 2012 or from an institution's participation date if later.

What are the plans for IRUS-UK and how is it funded?

IRUS-UK has been designated as one of Jisc's 'core services', so funding has been assigned to cover ongoing support and development of IRUS-UK to end July 2018. The 2018/19 Jisc budget is to be confirmed.

How do I find out more about IRUS-UK?

Our website has an overview of the project and contact information if you want to get in touch. We speak about IRUS-UK at conferences, events and webinars. A list of events that the IRUS-UK team has attended is featured at The page also contains links to papers, presentations and webinar recordings. You can follow us on Twitter @irusnews.

Joining IRUS-UK

Is the service available to all?

Participation is open to all interested UK HE and Research Council institutional repositories.

We are currently working with EPrints, DSpace and Fedora repositories, which account for about two thirds of all UK repositories, and will be working with others in the future. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in working with us and you use or supply other repository software.

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 either supply the appropriate plug-in or patch, advise you where to obtain it or advise you who you need to contact.


How do you gather data?

We gather data using tracker code plugins and patches and have initially focussed on developing tracker functionality for DSpace and EPrints repositories. We have patches available for DSpace (3.x, 4.x and 5.x) and plug-ins available for EPrints (works with 3.2 or greater).

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.

How is access controlled and who can see what?

Access to the portal is available via a Shibboleth login.

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?

This is something a number of IRUS-UK users have asked about, so we have been investigating it further. 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 looked at this for 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, so it’s not a simple process!

We will however be looking into this in more detail to see if there’s a way we can 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.

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.

During the ingest, following rules defined in the COUNTER Code of Practice, the IRUS-UK scripts filter out robots by matching against user agent patterns found in the COUNTER Robots Exclusion list, and screen out 'double clicks'. To improve the filtering further, IRUS-UK has written scripts that perform additional checks. These exclude: downloads from several IP ranges that are associated with various robots and spiders (which don’t identify themselves in their User Agent string); and downloads from 'overactive' IP addresses, which exceed daily thresholds (based on empirical evidence gathered over the last four years).

It should be noted that IRUS-UK benefits from having download data available from more than a 100 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 plan to harvest statistics from IRUS-UK when the Dashboard goes live. If you send usage statistics separately, OpenAIRE will be double counting.

Does IRUS-UK have an API?

We have an initial API available. 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 A few weeks after you join we'll send you a survey asking for your views, and any ideas you have for how we can develop the service. We also have an email list for participants (

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