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Disappearing act: Persistence and attrition of uniform resource locators (URLs) in an open access medical journal

Aragudige Nagaraja (SriKrishna Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India)
Shine A. Joseph (College of Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern University, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA)
Hyla H. Polen (College of Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern University, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA)
Kevin A. Clauson (College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biomedical Informatics Program, Nova Southeastern University, Florida, USA)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 15 February 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to assess and catalogue the magnitude of URL attrition in a high‐impact, open access (OA) general medical journal.

Design/methodology/approach

All Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS Medicine) articles for 2005‐2007 were evaluated and the following items were assessed: number of entries per issue; type of article; number of references per entry; number of references that contained URLs; and the access date listed for each URL citation. URLs were then evaluated for accessibility status (i.e. active or defunct).

Findings

In total, 1,133 articles were published from 2005‐2007 in PLoS Medicine. The 1,133 articles contained 28,177 references, with 2,503 (8.9 per cent) identified as URLs. Non‐research articles accounted for a substantially higher percentage of URL references (17.4 per cent) compared to research articles (4.2 per cent). Almost 17 per cent of the URL references were defunct and the rate of URL attrition increased as time elapsed.

Research limitations/implications

Information management policy makers need to re‐examine the importance of preserving the internet materials long term. Both publisher and author should expand efforts to preserve internet materials. Common guidelines should be developed (e.g. by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) and implemented by all publishers to address URL use as references.

Originality/value

This article will be of interest to those in the field.

Keywords

Citation

Nagaraja, A., Joseph, S.A., Polen, H.H. and Clauson, K.A. (2011), "Disappearing act: Persistence and attrition of uniform resource locators (URLs) in an open access medical journal", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 98-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330331111107420

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited