Includes data set produced in this continued problem of URL decay study. The data for this study was collected in 2020 and again in 2021.

File Format


File Size

2 MB

Geographic coverage

North America



This study updates a 2009 study which examined uniform resource locator (URL) decay in health care management journals and seeks to determine whether continued URL availability relates to publication date, resource type, or top-level domain. The authors also provide an analysis of differences in findings between the two study periods.


The authors collected the URLs of web-based cited references in articles published in five health care management source journals from 2016 to 2018. The URLs were checked to see if they were still active and then analyzed to determine if continued availability was related to publication date, resource type, or top-level domain. Chi-square analysis was conducted to determine associations between resource type and URL availability, and top-level domain and URL availability. A Pearson's correlation was conducted to determine the relationship between publication date and URL availability.


There were statistically significant differences in URL availability across publication date, resource type, and top-level domain. Domains with the highest percentage of unavailable URLs were .com and .net, and the lowest were .edu and .gov. As expected, the older the citation, the more likely it was unavailable. The overall percentage of unavailable URLs decreased from 49.3% to 36.1% between studies.


URL decay in health care management journals has decreased in the last 13 years. Still, URL decay does continue to be a problem. Authors, publishers, and librarians should continue to promote the use of digital object identifiers, web archiving, and perhaps study and replicate efforts used by health services policy research journals to increase continued URL availability rates.