May 23, 2022

NISO Project Will Develop Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins

From the National Information Standards Organization:

Members of the National Standards Organization (NISO) have approved a new project: the development of a Recommended Practice for Tracking Link Origins in a Networked Information Environment. As libraries strive to improve the ways in which users access their collections, gaining a definitive understanding of where a user began his or her library search before ultimately arriving at library-licensed content is an important factor for library staff in determining the value of a platform and how to allocate resources. Additionally, publishers may turn to web log analysis to track where users are coming from. In many access scenarios, the use of link resolvers-a crucial technology tool-may unintentionally obscure the original citation source. This new NISO initiative will create effective and scalable options to allow content hosts and individual libraries to determine original sources of links, and provide information on how to obtain and process more accurate statistics for this data.

“The project will address a disconnect between academic institutions’ mission to provide their students and faculty with convenient, secure, and private access to high-quality licensed resources and libraries’ and vendors’ needs to collect metadata about how those resources are being used,” states Scott Bernier, Senior Vice President at EBSCO Information Services and one of the project proposers. “While statistics are generally available that depict the level of usage of content, this initiative will help provide a means for assessing how that usage occurs. By having an accurate, consistent view of the origin of each request for a piece of content, libraries will have more information on which to base decisions, and content providers will gain a greater sense of the resources that create visibility and usage of their content. These points of data will undoubtedly have an impact on the collective goals to enhance the value of library services overall.”

“Publishers, which supply metadata to various discovery and abstracting and indexing vendors in hopes of increasing discoverability and use of the content they create, will often use web log analysis to track where their users are coming from,” adds Oliver Pesch, Chief Product Strategist at EBSCO Information Services and a project proposer. “However, where publishers use HTTP referrer analysis on incoming links to determine sites where users start their research, links sent from link resolvers will represent the domain of the link resolver and not the platform where the user originated the search. We hope that by focusing on the full pathway of the request from user to destination, including options for making use of DOI handle servers, this initiative will provide more accurate statistics describing the heterogeneous information environment that many patrons enjoy from their libraries.”

Direct to Full Text of NISO Announcement

Additional Details in the Work Item Approved by NISO Voting Members

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.