Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ranking universities by their web presence

Isidro F. Aguillo and three co-authors, What the Internet says about Science: Universities can be ranked based on web indicators, The Scientist, July 18, 2005. (Thanks to Steve Hitchcock.)
The Web has changed the way in which many researchers access scientific information, conduct research, communicate their findings, and share data. There is now a need to assess the impact of Web publication in order to promote wider and better use of this new medium. Recent attempts have been made to go beyond the strict use of bibliometric indicators....The Web offers advantages as institutions represent "natural units," with their own institutional domains that mark their presence on the Internet. Since most institutions have a specific Internet domain or subdomain for all their Web pages, quantitative data can be extracted using specifically designed crawlers, or the robots of the major search engines. The contents of these institutional Web sites might include not only final papers or preprints, but also valuable information on other aspects of their scientific activities. Raw data, teaching materials, slides produced for meetings or conferences, in-house software, graphs, media files, and even administrative information might be useful to pupils, colleagues, and partners worldwide....[W]e designed a combined assessment model for ranking the institutional domains of universities worldwide based on "Web presence" indicators. Three different features of these domains were assessed: the size of their Web presence (measured by the number of Web pages), visibility (reflected by the number of in-links from pages external to the domain), and the number of "rich" files available [for downloading]....Data were collected using the major search engines. The full results are available from Ranking of World Universities in the Web, where the first 1,000 universities are listed according to Web criteria.

Comment. This study shows once more that OA to research articles through institutional repositories increases the visibility and stature of the institutions, the authors, and their works. It should strengthen the case for universities to launch OA repositories and fill them.