University of Wisconsin–Madison

Link Rot: How to preserve your citations with Perma.CC

Link Rot. Even the name sounds gross. What it means is even worse, especially for legal scholars and law students. Link rot is what happens when a website suddenly disappears, or the content on that page is changed by the site's owner, rendering bookmarks, urls and citations useless.

This may not seem like a big deal for a casual browser, but it can cause big problems for scholars that cite these mysteriously changing/disappearing pages. How are legal scholars supposed to support their arguments and statements with citations that are not reliable, since readers can no longer locate them?

Obviously, the internet (and citing to webpages) isn't going anywhere. So, how do we help keep the foundation of legal scholarship thriving with secure citations? Enter Perma.CC

Perma.CC, a new service created by the Harvard Law Library, is designed to preserve and archive web citations for all time. Perma.CC is administered through law libraries across the United States, and, you guessed it, the University of Wisconsin was an early adopter.

The process is extremely simple:
1. The helpful law librarian (me) creates an account for the user (faculty, student, law journal).

2. The user finds a website they would like to cite and creates a 'perma-link' with only a few clicks.

3. The perma-link is then 'vested' by the helpful law librarian (me) or by a user who has been granted vesting authority. Vesting means the link will be preserved for all time. (If a link is not vested, the perma-link will still be preserved for two years).

4. That's it! You can now add you brand-new archived perma-link to your citation...the Bluebook encourages it!

The entire process is even simpler to do than to describe. If you are interested in preserving your scholarly links, please contact me and I am happy to help. Perma is a great solution for a nasty problem, and one that I hope more and more UW staff, faculty and students will be using in the years to come. 

Submitted by Kristopher Turner on November 2, 2015

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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