What If Law Journal Citations Included Digital Object Identifiers? A Snapshot of Major Law Journals

“What If Law Journal Citations Included Digital Object Identifiers? A Snapshot of Major Law Journals”

BENJAMIN J. KEELE, Indiana University Bloomington – School of Library and Information Science

Prevailing citation practice in law journals is to use uniform resource locators (URLs) when citing electronic sources. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) provide a more reliable and robust mechanism for citing digital, scholarly articles. This study examines to what extent DOIs exist but are not used in law journal citations. Citations to scholarly articles from twenty-five randomly-selected articles appearing in the 2008-2009 volumes of four major law journals (Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and University of Pennsylvania Law Review) were checked for existing DOIs using CrossRef’s Simple Text Query form. This resulted in 394 citations that could have had DOIs, but did not. This non-trivial number suggests that law journal editors and librarians should consider adding DOIs to citations. For journals that publish exclusively online or are interdisciplinary, assigning DOIs to their own articles may be a prudent measure to better ensure long-term digital access and citation by scholars in other fields.

Source:  LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies eJournal Vol. 11 No. 42,

Trying to Save the Web’s Shortcuts

From the “Technology Journal” of today’s Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, November 25, 2009, p. B5):

Trying to Save the Web’s Shortcuts

Project Seeks to Preserve Links Behind Fledgling Services That Shrink Internet Addresses

By Andrew LaVallee

The Internet Archive and more than 20 start-ups are banding together to preserve the historical records of the abbreviated Web addresses that are passed around on services such as Twitter.

. . .

Internet Materials in Opinions: Citations and Hyperlinking

From The Third Branch

July 2009, Vol. 41, Number 7, p. 9


Internet Materials in Opinions: Citations and Hyperlinking

The Judicial Conference has issued a series of “suggested practices” to assist courts in the use of Internet materials in opinions. The recommendations follow a pilot project conducted by circuit librarians who captured and preserved webpages cited in opinions over a six-month period.

The Internet often seems to pervade everyday life, giving us answers, matches, recommendations, definitions, and citations. But the information on the Internet can be as ephemeral as yesterday’s blog entry. Websites can change or disappear altogether.

“Judges are citing to and using Internet-based information in their opinions with increasing frequency,” Judicial Conference Secretary Jim Duff wrote recently to chief judges. “Unlike printed authority, Internet information is often not maintained at a permanent location, and a cited webpage can be changed or deleted at any time. Obviously, this has significant implications for the reliability of citations in court opinions.”

The Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) began the pilot project, conducted by circuit libraries, and received and endorsed the recommendations of an ad hoc working group of circuit librarians. In approving those recommendations in March 2009, the Judicial Conference agreed that all Internet materials cited in final opinions be considered for preservation, while each judge should retain the discretion to decide whether the specific cited resource should be captured and preserved. The Conference directed the Administrative Office to work with the CACM Committee to develop guidelines “to assist judges in making the determination of which citations to preserve.”

The guidelines suggest that, if a webpage is cited, chambers staff preserve the citation by downloading a copy of the site’s page and filing it as an attachment to the judicial opinion in the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. The attachment, like the opinion, would be retrievable on a non-fee basis through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system. When considering whether to cite Internet sources, judges are reminded that some litigants, particularly pro se litigants, may not have access to a computer.

The Judicial Conference also recommended that the Judiciary avoid including in final opinions working hyperlinks that lead directly to materials contained within commercial vendor databases to prevent a stated or implied endorsement or preferential treatment. To the extent that a court determines that such hyperlinks are to be used in opinions, it is recommended that an appropriate disclaimer be provided.

Google, Legal Citations, and Electronic Fickleness: Legal Scholarship in the Digital Environment

“Google, Legal Citations, and Electronic Fickleness: Legal Scholarship in the Digital Environment”

DANA NEACSU, Columbia University – Diamond Law Library

While law review articles are preserved in fee-based databases such as Westlaw and Lexis and thus are reliably accessible for the future, the footnotes, the source of authority and the body of most law review articles which themselves represent the main part of legal scholarship, usually refer to documents which far too often become inaccessible within a few months after their publication. Both government documents and documents privately published on the Internet have an unreliable life-span. This contradictory approach to digitization raises a large array of questions. Among them, is the following: How does this double digitization (that is, digitizing articles which refer to already-digitized, but unreliably retrieved, prior sources) affect the retrieval of legal information? Whose job is it to preserve legal information? As this is a more complex answer here I will only attempt to show that digitization has created a different environment of legal information (which includes legal scholarship) and this new environment proves to be more elusive that we would like to think about it.


Source:  LSN Legal Information & Technology Vol. 1 No. 16,  06/03/2009

The Next Generation of Legal Citations Survey, and Authentication and Link Rot Issues

Link rot is a pet peeve of mine.  A posting I made on June 11, 2008, “Law School Laptop Bans,” already has a broken link to a news story and the posting isn’t even a year old yet.  And I can’t count the number of times I have found a terrific-sounding right-on-point resource in a law review footnote, only to find its URL leads to the dreaded “404 Not Found.”  But it’s more than a pet peeve issue, as this survey makes clear:

“The Next Generation of Legal Citations: A Survey of Internet Citations in the Opinions of the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Appellate Courts, 1999-2005”

Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2007

TINA CHING, Seattle University School of Law

As more legal research is conducted online, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be a corresponding increase in citations to the Internet by judges in their opinions. With the widespread public use of the Internet to access information along with the constant changes and impermanence of websites, citing to the Internet should be an issue of increasing concern to the legal community across the country. This paper surveys the types of Internet sources the Washington state Supreme Court and Appellate Court justices are citing. It discusses the interrelated issues of link rot and the impermanence of web pages, citation format, authentication and preservation of online electronic legal information.


Source:  LSN Legal Information & Technology Vol. 1 No. 11,  04/29/2009