Let me first say, that I consider links to papers referenced in MO posts a useful things. And so do other users, judging by an older discussion on this topic: Is it worth editing old posts to add links for references?

Occasionally you can find links which contain part related to proxy of a specific university. I mean links such as http://jlms.oxfordjournals.org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/content/s2-15/1/134 (from this answer) or http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/stable/2372821 (from this answer), etc. Links like this have been briefly discussed also in comments to this question: edits with links to material under restricted access.

As far as I can tell, links like this only work for somebody who accesses the material from the network of particular university or if you have password for this specific proxy. (Correct me if I am wrong.) And since the link works fine on the OP's end, the OP might easily miss that there might be a problem for others.

Such links are rather easy to correct. And I edit such links when I spot them. (This basically amounts to correcting a "broken" link, which I consider an improvement of a post.) Usually all you do is to omit the part which contains the university proxy and you get a working link. (Like http://jlms.oxfordjournals.org/content/s2-15/1/134 and http://www.jstor.org/stable/2372821 for the two examples mentioned above.) Even if my institution does not have access to the particular journal or issue, I can still check that the link works - it gets me to the paper referenced in the post.

However sometimes you can see links to MathSciNet searches in posts. (Which are probably useful - otherwise the OP would not include them - although they are probably only useful for users with access to MathSciNet.) As an example, I can mention this link: http://www.ams.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/mathscinet/search/publdoc.html?arg3=&co4=AND&co5=AND&co6=AND&co7=AND&dr=all&pg4=AUCN&pg5=TI&pg6=PC&pg7=ALLF&pg8=ET&review_format=html&s4=Habiro&s5=claspers&s6=&s7=&s8=All&vfpref=html&yearRangeFirst=&yearRangeSecond=&yrop=eq&r=2&mx-pid=1735632 it is used in this answer. A natural guess is that link should work after removing the ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg part to get http://www.ams.org/mathscinet/search/publdoc.html?arg3=&co4=AND&co5=AND&co6=AND&co7=AND&dr=all&pg4=AUCN&pg5=TI&pg6=PC&pg7=ALLF&pg8=ET&review_format=html&s4=Habiro&s5=claspers&s6=&s7=&s8=All&vfpref=html&yearRangeFirst=&yearRangeSecond=&yrop=eq&r=2&mx-pid=1735632. However I cannot test whether the link indeed is correct, since I only get to the box saying that "http://www.ams.org/ requires username and a password".

Is it reliable to change links in this way? Should I expect that somebody with MathSciNet access will check the link if I am unable to? Should I explicitly ask somewhere (perhaps in chat) whether somebody would be willing to check the link?

Of course, I am aware that this is a very minor problem. (And I do not expect that there will be too many posts like this. If I try to search for url:*mathscinet*search*) I only get 251 posts. And I assume that the majority of the posts contain working links. If I try url:*proxy*mathscinet*search* or url:*lib*mathscinet*search*, I only get 4 posts - but perhaps that are other strings used in similar links.)

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    $\begingroup$ The fixed MathSciNet link works. I am guessing that for most libraries and e-resources this will be the case. The shorter link ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=1735632 also works. $\endgroup$
    – Sera Gunn
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link @T.Gunn. I was aware of links in this format and that even without MathSciNet access I can find such links through MR lookup. Based on the description in the post ("MathSciNet indicates 123 citations for Habiro's fundamental paper...") I thought that the link is to some search which shows the citation for this paper. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ It seems like a search. But there is only the single paper. At the top of the page it says "Publications results for "Author=(Habiro) AND Title=(claspers)" and then in the Citations box it lists 162 from references and 35 from reviews. I will also point out that you can see the id (1735632) at the end of both links. $\endgroup$
    – Sera Gunn
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ If the two links are indeed the same, the advantage of ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=1735632 is that it is shown also to non-subscribers. (Although very probably with much less information, but at least I see the bibliographic data there.) The website provides this description: "For users without a MathSciNet license , Relay Station allows linking from MR numbers in online mathematical literature directly to electronic journals and original articles. Subscribers receive the added value of full MathSciNet reviews." $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ Ok I think I see what's going on. When you search for "Author=(Habiro) AND Title=(claspers)" it gives you two papers: 1735632 and ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=2329695. If you click on either of the papers it gives you a link with all the search data but only the single paper is visible on the page (the link in the answer). You can navigate between papers using the previous/next/up links (up brings you back to the search page). If you use the cleaned up link you can't navigate back to the search page but you still see the paper exactly the same. $\endgroup$
    – Sera Gunn
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Ideally one could provide a second link, to the paper itself. If the purpose of the link is to provide proof of the number of citations, then one could format it as: MathSciNet indicates [link to MSN page] 123 citations to Habiro's fundamental paper [link to paper]. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ The comments seem to answer the question of whether this particular link works, but not of whether this is a reliable transformation, and I think that the only answer to that is: maybe. (For example, the UMichigan proxy has just switched to a slightly different style of link rewriting whereby, for example, link.springer.com becomes link-springer-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu : still predictable, but not the same as the other scheme.) Isn't there a way to do something like flag for moderator attention, and leave it to a moderator with MSN access? $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for fixing my links! I try to remember to strip out the proxy, but obviously I don't always get it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidSpeyer I did not intend to single out your posts - I wanted to include some examples and it just so happens that the last two edits of this kind that I made were on your posts. (Obviously, after I found one post containing proxy.lib.umich.edu I searched for other similar links. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Links to Mathscinet and other similar sources cannot be "fixed" to work for all. Mathscinet indeed requires subscription. The ways to use it varies from one university to another and sometimes depend on where you use it from. Some use proxies, others use passwords etc.

For this reasons, I try not to use the links to restricted web sites in my answers. When referring to Mathscinet I just type the review number. If the reader has an access, she may use it.

By the way, Zentralblatt is partially free. It allows anyone to see a list of at most 3 items. Check:


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    $\begingroup$ I will add (as already mentioned before in comments) that links of the form ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=2329695 are visible for people without subscription too - but they are displayed differently for subscribers and non-subscribers. Of course, my question was mainly about links to searches - which are not accessible for non-subscribers at all. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ Update: Zentralblatt is now completely free. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2023 at 20:07

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