Ecology in the information age: Patterns of use and attrition rates of internet-based citations in ESA journals, 1997–2005

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
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Abstract

As the amount of information available on the internet has increased, so too has the number of citations to network-accessible information in scholarly research. We searched all papers in four Ecological Society of America journals from 1997 to 2005 for articles containing a citation to material on the internet. We then tested the links to determine whether the information cited in the paper was still accessible. We identified 877 articles that contained at least one link to information on the internet and a total of 2100 unique links. The majority of these citations were based on an object's location (Uniform Resource Locator; 77%), whereas the rest were based on an object's identity (eg Digital Object Identifier, GenBank Accession number). We found that 19–30% of the location-based links were unavailable and that there was a positive relationship between the age of an article and the probability of the link being inactive. Using an internet search engine, we recovered 72–84% of the lost information, leaving a total of 6.2% of the total citations unavailable. Our results highlight the problem of persistence of information stored on the world wide web and we include recommendations for minimizing this problem.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ecology in the information age: Patterns of use and attrition rates of internet-based citations in ESA journals, 1997–2005
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
DOI 10.1890/070022
Volume 6
Issue 3
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 7 p.
First page 145
Last page 151
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