All known previous Web link studies have used the Web page as the primary indivisible source document for counting purposes. Arguments are presented to explain why this is not necessarily optimal and why other alternatives have the potential to produce better results. This is despite the fact that individual Web files are often the only choice if search engines are used for raw data and are the easiest basic Web unit to identify. The central issue is of defining the Web “document”: that which should comprise the single indissoluble unit of coherent material. Three alternative heuristics are defined for the educational arena based upon the directory, the domain and the whole university site. These are then compared by implementing them on a set of 108 UK university institutional Web sites under the assumption that a more effective heuristic will tend to produce results that correlate more highly with institutional research productivity. It was discovered that the domain and directory models were able to successfully reduce the impact of anomalous linking behavior between pairs of Web sites, with the latter being the method of choice. Reasons are then given as to why a document model on its own cannot eliminate all anomalies in Web linking behavior. Finally, the results from all models give a clear confirmation of the very strong association between the research productivity of a UK university and the number of incoming links from its peers' Web sites.
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2002
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