This is typically processed via a CGI program, which extracts the metadata in a URL querystring (i.e., following a question mark '?

' within an HTTP address [2]) thus allowing access to multiple articles via the same gateway.

However, these links still used proprietary formats that differed between resource providers.

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The improvement of access to scholarly literature caused by electronic journal publishing quickly led to the wish for seamless linking to referenced articles.

This article looks at the evolution of linking technologies with a particular focus on Open URL, now a NISO standard.

The implications for stakeholders in the supply chain are explored, including publishers, intermediaries, libraries and readers.

The benefits, expectations and business drivers are examined.

The article also highlights some novel, existing and potential future, uses, including increased user-empowerment and possibilities beyond referencing traditional bibliographic material.

The advent of electronic publication of academic literature very rapidly produced an appreciation, and consequent expectation, among researchers of the availability of articles at their desktop, rather than the previous scenario of visiting the library to read a print journal issue.

But this improvement of access to scholarly literature soon initiated further schemes and desires for more enhancement.

Researchers would benefit even more if they could instantly move to articles referenced by the article they were reading, or if there were seamless access to the full text of an article from a discovery service.

This situation led to the first implementations of linking to articles developed by resource providers in a static way.