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 International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 9, No. 2 (2013) open journal systems 


Persistence and decay of web citations used in theses and dissertations available at the Sokoine National Agricultural Library, Tanzania

Alfred Said Sife, Sokoine University of Agriculture
Ronald Bernard, Sokoine University of Agriculture


Abstract
A study was conducted to examine the persistence and decay of web citations in theses and dissertations available at the Sokoine National Agricultural Library. The study focused on those theses and dissertations dated between 2007 and 2011. The study assessed the accessibility status of cited URLs, identified error messages and top domain levels of inaccessible URLs, and calculated the half-life of web citations. Eighty-three theses and dissertations were randomly selected for the study giving a total of 15,468 citations.The findings indicate that there were 1,487 (9.6%) web citations, of which only 625 (42%) citations were accessible. The 404 File Not Found error messages was the most (92.7%) encountered. The top-level domain .com (28.2%) had the greatest number of missing URLs followed by.org (18.9%). The average half-life for the cited URLs in theses and dissertations was 2.5 years. The study findings indicate that although the use of web citations in scholarly writing is increasing, the decay of web citations is also becoming a serious problem. This prevents authors from retrieving the cited information and also raises questions on the long term availability of online information resources. Collaborative efforts are thus required from various actors in order to overcome this problem.


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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. ISSN: 1814-0556