Saturday, April 22, 2006

WebCite

This week I was reading about link rot (Wikipedia) when I stumbled across a tool called WebCite for creating archives of web pages that are cited in an academic work. From their website:
WebCite® is an archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites), which can be used by authors, editors, and publishers of scholarly papers and books, to ensure that cited webmaterial will remain available to readers in the future.
The canonical reference for WebCite appears to be a 2005 article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) entitled “Going, Going, Still There: Using the WebCite Service to Permanently Archive Cited Web Pages” by Eysenbach and Trudel. I also found a 2003 poster about the service, so it appears to have been around for a while.

WebCite is a great idea for combating link rot, although other archiving services like Spurl.net and Hanzo:web could also be used. The advantage to WebCite is that they also provide "impact statistics" on cited web pages.

I did a search for “WebCite” in Google Scholar to see if WebCite had been widely adopted since I had never seen it used before. The only articles I could find that used the system were from JMIR which I assume has a policy that enforces use of WebCite for all their articles. Here’s an example of a WebCite URL:

http://www.webcitation.org/426


I may use WebCite the next time I write an article. The only thing I’m concerned about is the long-term survival of WebCite. For several days I was unable to access their website. If their service is not entirely stable, it makes me wonder how long they’ll be around.