Objectives: To describe dermatology journal uniform resource locator (URL) use and persistence and to
better understand the level of control and awareness of authors regarding the availability of the URLs they
Design: Software was written to automatically access URLs in articles published between
January 1, 1999, and September 30, 2004, in the 3 dermatology journals with the highest scientific impact. Authors of publications with unavailable
URLs were surveyed regarding URL content, availability, and preservation.
Main Outcome Measures: Uniform resource locator use and persistence and author opinions and practices.
Results: The percentage of articles containing at least 1 URL increased from 2.3% in
1999 to 13.5% in 2004. Of the 1113 URLs, 81.7% were available (decreasing with time since publication from 89.1% of
2004 URLs to 65.4% of 1999 URLs) (p < 0.001). Uniform resource
locator unavailability was highest in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology (22.1%) and lowest in the Archives of Dermatology (14.8%)
(p = 0.03). Some content was partially recoverable via the Internet Archive for 120 of the 204 unavailable URLs.
Most authors (55.2%) agreed that the unavailable URL content was important to the publication, but
few controlled URL availability personally (5%) or with the help of others (employees, colleagues, and friends)
Conclusions: Uniform resource locators are increasingly used and lost in dermatology journals. Loss will continue until better preservation
policies are adopted.