Tools You Can Use: Link Preservation Extensions

We’ve all been there before – you put together a great research document, sent a press release linking to key facts, or sent a report to a client linking out to web pages, only to have those pages taken down or key facts on them changed. Or you come back months or years later to reuse some prior research, and link-rot has eaten half of your citations.

Luckily there are some new tools out there that can help prevent this, and lock in the citations and resources you’ve found. Here’s a few:

Perma.CC is a cool utility that saves full pages and creates easy links to them from an extension in the browser. It also saves a screenshot, and lets you add notes to the page, upload content, and more.


The interface requires that you sign up for a account, and limits non-library users to 10 links per month. I’ve emailed them and asked if there are ways to get larger accounts, but haven’t heard back.

In the meantime, the project is also available on github, so you can spin up your own version of it and host as many links as you want, if you’re so inclined.


The Internet Archive

Nearly every researcher has used the internet archive, but you may not know the organization has a chrome extension letting you preserve any page to it.

Preserving the page saves the page to the public archive (which may not be what you want, in some cases) and generates a link that you can use to cite back to the preserved page in its new location.

The main downside to using this extension is that if the site has a robots.txt file, it will prevent the Internet Archive from capturing the page, so there will be many pages that you aren’t able to archive via this route. However, having and using the extension can also be more broadly useful, helping make sure any pages you might want to see in the future are still around.



Another project from Harvard, Amber, does something a little different. It works in the background on blogs and other sites where it’s installed (principally just on the WordPress CMS for now) and saves copies of the links out from your blog, making sure that everything referenced on it is preserved. If you’re hosting a lot of research on a site, this could be a great option.


Have other helpful tools like this you’d like to share? Let us know. Want more tips? Subscribe to get our posts by email!



Sources to Search: Exploring the Newly-Expanded CIA Public Archives

The CIA just announced this week that they’ve added almost a million records and over 12 million pages to their CREST (CIA Records Search Tool) library, significantly expanding the data in the tool and providing a lot of fascinating insights into different periods of American history, including notable moments like the Bay of Pigs invasion.

CIA Search

The newly declassified records are over 25 years old, so they only reach into the early 90s. Nonetheless, researchers might still find them interesting, given that they contain records on lots of folks who were in public office and government in the 70s and 80s, and the CIA logged its interactions with legislators, and kept an archive of relevant news clippings, etc. These new records significantly expand the tool, and make it a must-search when doing diligence on anyone with a long public track record.


And some of the records contained are very interesting and relevant today. A cabinet briefing from 1984, for example, contains a lengthy memo from then-deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, titled “Microeconomic Measures to Deal with the Trade Deficit”. It’s a lengthy document, covering trade and tariff policy with dozens of countries, and hitting on a host of policy questions (i.e. “Tariff and licensing problems with Mexico”) which might be of interest given his pending appointment to be the next U.S. Trade Representative, and may offer some additional insights into his policy views.


The archive also catalogues a lot of activity between the agency and legislators, and other government officials at the time.  You can search the archive here. In general, you’ll want to use “” around your searches. Find anything interesting? Let us know!



The Watch periodically highlights data sources that can be valuable, but are often overlooked. Databases like CREST are integrated into the Vigilant research platform and be accessed and monitored through the tool. Contact us if you’re interested in a trial.

Sources to Search: Brushes With Fame in the IMDB Database

Usually when you’re researching someone famous, you’ll know about it. But sometimes, people have unexpected experiences. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk – hardly a notable actor –  appeared as himself in the thriller Machette Kills (28% on Rotten Tomatoes). And 2014 U.S. Senate Candidate Greg Orman served as an executive producer for the Jeff Goldblum film Pittsburgh. His IMDB page also lists a recent television appearance.

And these profiles can be fairly robust – and help point you to their appearance in documentaries. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s page, for instance, includes a wide-ranging filmography of TV appearances, documentary interviews, and more – almost 50 credits in total.

In total, IMDB’s database contains records on nearly 7.5 million people – a significant chunk of the population – and nearly 80 million film credits. So while most of these people aren’t stars, a wide range of appearances do get credited – possibly providing useful records. it’s also a potential opportunity to find video footage. There aren’t a lot of resources out there to tell you about archival TV appearances, and so IMDB can be particularly valuable in that respect.


To search the database, use the advanced name search to help get clearer results than the main search bar provides. You can also add filtering for variables like gender and date of birth. The search itself is pretty firm (ie Gavin Newsome won’t return results), and you don’t need to include quote marks around the search.

The Watch periodically highlights data sources that can be valuable, but are often overlooked. Sign up and subscribe to get our posts with helpful tips in your email.

Vigilant CEO quoted on trends in opposition research

Our CEO Mike Phillips spoke with E & E News last week to give some context and background for a story on opposition research on candidates (and in this case, cabinet appointees).

Mike Phillips, a former research consultant and founder of Vigilant Web, a startup that builds public records research tools, said he was not surprised by the existence or length of the DCCC research book on Zinke.
“Research is becoming more and more comprehensive, and folks are digging deeper into the profiles and experience of candidates that are running for office and hoping to serve,” he said. “Part of that is being facilitated by the development of more expansive technologies and greater access to data on the internet as well as more powerful tools.”

You can read the whole story here.

Welcome to our new blog at Vigilant – The Watch.

This blog is our place to share insights in the field of research and intelligence – tips, strategies, and resources that we hope will make you more successful in your work.

Check back often (or sign up to get our posts in your email!) for a range of useful content, including:

Highlights of useful sources, and how to use them: We’ll feature and dive into public record sources that might fly under your radar, and talk about creative ways to use the information obtained.

Tips and tricks from experienced researchers: We’ll feature guest posts from the best in the business, sharing useful strategies and stories based on their experiences in research.

Strategies for managing research projects: We’ll talk about tools and strategies that can be used to make your research projects successful, and we’ll try and keep this concrete – with clear examples of how to leverage these resources effectively.

And we’ll have a lot more too, so let us know what sort of things you’d like to read about!


Mike & the Vigilant Team