A snapshot of 3649 Web-based services published between 1994 and 2017 shows a decrease in availability after 2 years

Agnes Osz, Lorinc Sandor Pongor, Danuta Szirmai, Balazs Gyorffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The long-term availability of online Web services is of utmost importance to ensure reproducibility of analytical results. However, because of lack of maintenance following acceptance, many servers become unavailable after a short period of time. Our aim was to monitor the accessibility and the decay rate of published Web services as well as to determine the factors underlying trends changes. Methods: We searched PubMed to identify publications containing Web server-related terms published between 1994 and 2017. Automatic and manual screening was used to check the status of each Web service. Kruskall-Wallis, Mann-Whitney and Chi-square tests were used to evaluate various parameters, including availability, accessibility, platform, origin of authors, citation, journal impact factor and publication year. Results: We identified 3649 publications in 375 journals of which 2522 69%) were currently active. Over 95% of sites were running in the first 2 years, but this rate dropped to 84% in the third year and gradually sank afterwards P < 1e-16). The mean half-life of Web services is 10.39 years. Working Web services were published in journals with higher impact factors P = 4.8e-04). Services published before the year 2000 received minimal attention. The citation of offline services was less than for those online P = 0.022). The majority of Web services provide analytical tools, and the proportion of databases is slowly decreasing. Conclusions. Almost one-third of Web services published to date went out of service. We recommend continued support of Web-based services to increase the reproducibility of published results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbbx159
Pages (from-to)1004-1010
Number of pages7
JournalBriefings in bioinformatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2017


  • Web servers
  • Web services
  • bioinformatics tools
  • citation analysis
  • databases
  • online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology

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