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Reference rot in scholarly statement: threat and remedy

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
JournalInsights: the UKSG journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


As the scholarly communication system evolves to become natively web based, citations now commonly include hyperlinks to content that is issued on the web. The content at the end of those hyperlinks is subject to what has been termed lsquo;reference rotrsquo;: a link may break or the content at the end of the link may no longer represent what was first noted as significant. Reference rot threatens both the usability of what is published and the long-term integrity of the scholarly record. The aim of the Hiberlink project has been to focus on this problem and then to compile and analyse a large corpus of full-text publications in order to quantify the extent of reference rot. The results are now out, and the task has shifted to alerting publishers and libraries on what to do in order to ensure that published web-based references do not rot over time. This has implications for the integrity of the scholarly record and for authors of that record. Fortunately, the Hiberlink project has progressed further than originally envisaged and has recommended remedies aimed at alleviating reference rot.

    Research areas

  • citation, preservation, reference rot, scholarly communication

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