One of the presentations at the ELPUB 2008 Conference was Paper 378 by Gunther Eysenbach, entitled: “Preserving the scholarly record with WebCite(R) (www.webcitation.org): an archiving system for long-term digital preservation of cited webpages”. It’s a fascinating article. Excerpts (from a 12-page PDF):
From page 2/12:
WebCite is a tool specifically designed to be used by authors, readers, editors and publishers of scholarly material, allowing them to permanently archive cited “non-journal” Web material, such as cited homepages, wiki pages, blogs, draft papers accessible on the web, “grey” PDF reports, news reports etc. To prevent “link rot”, authors simply have to cite the WebCite snapshot ID and/or a link to the permanent WebCite URL, in addition to citing the original URL.
From page 3/12:
In 2005, the first journal [Journal of Medical Internet Research] announced using WebCite routinely 13, and dozens of other journals followed suit. Biomed Central, publisher of hundreds of open access journals, has been using WebCite routinely since 2005 (all URLs cited in Biomed Central articles are automatically archived by WebCite)2.
From page 10/12:
WebCite aims to make Internet material (any sort of digital objects) more “citable”, long-term accessible, and hence more acceptable for scholarly purposes. Without WebCite, Internet citations are deemed ephemeral and therefore are often frowned upon by authors and editors. However, it does not make much sense to ignore opinions, ideas, draft papers, or data published on the Internet (including wikis and blogs), not acknowledging them only because they are not “formally” published, and because they are difficult to cite. The reality is that in the age of the Internet, “publication” is a continuum, and it makes little sense to not cite (therefore acknowledge) for example the idea of a scholarly blogger, the collective wisdom of a wiki, ideas from an online discussion paper, or data from an online accessible dataset only because online material is not deemed “citable”.
From page 11/12:
While the primary pathway in the WebCite system is third-party initiated archiving (triggered by a citing author), WebCite also provides a very simple mechanism for authors to self-archive their own work.
From page 11/12:
WebCite puts the initiation of the archiving process into the hands of the scientific community, who – by virtue of citing it – decides what is considered worthy archiving.
From note 2, page 11/12:
It is important to understand that WebCite focuses on documents exclusively available on the web, not documents such as journal articles which can be assumed to be archived in libraries.
I’ve recently used WebCite to avoid any risk of “link rot” for three links that were included in my post Review of “The Access Principle”. These links have been added at the bottom of my review (and, a “Cite this page!” button has also been added at the bottom of my review, just in case someone might decide to cite it).
I’ve also recently tried WebCite as a means of self-archiving a few posts in this blog, as follows:
These posts were selected because they provide data that might be cited in the future. They also serve to illustrate the usefulness of WebCite. The planned enhancements of WebCite that are outlined in Gunther Eysenbach’s article should increase its utility even more.