Web links have been used for around ten years to explore the online impact of academic information and information producers. Nevertheless, few studies have attempted to relate link counts to relevant offline attributes of the owners of the targeted Web sites, with the exception of research productivity. This article reports the results of a study to relate site inlink counts to relevant owner characteristics for over 400 European life‐science research group Web sites. The analysis confirmed that research‐group size and Web‐presence size were important for attracting Web links, although research productivity was not. Little evidence was found for significant influence of any of an array of factors, including research‐group leader gender and industry connections. In addition, the choice of search engine for link data created a surprising international difference in the results, with Google perhaps giving unreliable results. Overall, the data collection, statistical analysis and results interpretation were all complex and it seems that we still need to know more about search engines, hyperlinks, and their function in science before we can draw conclusions on their usefulness and role in the canon of science and technology indicators.
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology – Wiley
Published: Mar 15, 2009
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