A number of academic studies have looked at the accuracy of bibliographic references; according to estimates, the proportion of published references that contain errors is at least 5% and can be as high as 50%, depending on the source and the discipline.
One study published in 2004 examined three anatomy journals and found that 27% of published references contained errors -- 38% of which were classified as major errors! Another study from 2005 found 45 distinct errors in references to a single, well-cited source, and another reference that had been mis-cited over 250 times!
In the print era, what might be thought of as minor errors were less of a problem, since usually enough of the reference was correct to allow readers to find the cited article on library shelves. All this has changed with the advent of electronic journals, where accurate bibliographic details are required to make inter-article links. A published guide by Carol Anne Meyer of Crossref documents best practices for making such links between citing and cited articles.
Historically, publishers have played a critical role in checking and correcting references. This has become much more important in the digital era, as errors in references can often result in a failure to link to the appropriate online resource. Recent economic pressures have led many publishers to push responsibility for the accuracy of their references back onto authors. It is here that Edifix can make a difference, by providing authors and editors with an essential tool for improving reference accuracy and increasing rates of inter-article linking.