NEJL initiative to address dangers of link rot of research materials on legal aid and indigent defense

The NEJL has launched a new initiative to address the dangers of link rot, and prevent the potential loss of critical research materials on civil legal aid and indigent defense. Access to web-published content can be lost as websites, including linked documents, are routinely updated, reorganized, or deleted over time. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, a collaborative digital preservation program established to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information, found that — on the basis of its samples — link rot has increased to 51.12 percent within seven years, between 2008 and 2014. This means that over half of the sampled materials disappeared from the original web addresses. Among the highest increases of link rot showed the content at .org domains — more than 56 percent of the materials posted to organization domains disappeared from the original documented web addresses.

To address these dangers, and contribute to the preservation of critical research materials on civil legal aid and indigent defense, the NEJL has created the collection: Equal Justice Reports and Proceedings (Gray Literature) Collection, which is available through the Digital Georgetown repository. This growing collection includes recent and historical reports and proceedings on civil legal aid, indigent defense, and — more generally– on criminal justice and human rights. The collection includes pdf files of born digital or digitized documents, as well as bibliographic references and permalinks to copyrighted gray literature. In addition to the permalinks, all materials in the collection include an abstract, and are described using standardized terms.

Katharina Hering

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