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Webometric Development in Web Impact Factor Studies: A Literary Review

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The aim of the paper is to review the webometric development in web impact factor perspective through the literature available in the area. The growth and development of webometric researches has been divided into four categories – webometrics development, webometric analysis, link analysis, and web impact factor analysis; and reviewed accordingly. The paper finds that citation analysis and link analysis have no analogy with each other; significant correlation between the English-language pages and backlink counts; possibility with the information ignorance due to linguistic and geographic barriers that should be taken into account in the development of the Web; and concluded with the phrase that webometric researches must be conducted with caution.
JoALS (2014) 28-36 © STM Journals 2014. All Rights Reserved Page 28
Journal of Advancements in Library Sciences
ISSN: 2349-4352 (online)
Volume 1, Issue 3
www.stmjournals.com
Webometric Development in Web Impact Factor
Studies: A Literary Review
Akhandanand Shukla*, Vanlalfeli
Department of Library and Information Science, Mizoram University, Aizawl, India
Abstract
The aim of the paper is to review the webometric development in web impact factor
perspective through the literature available in the area. The growth and development of
webometric researches has been divided into four categories webometrics development,
webometric analysis, link analysis, and web impact factor analysis; and reviewed
accordingly. The paper finds that citation analysis and link analysis have no analogy with
each other; significant correlation between the English-language pages and backlink
counts; possibility with the information ignorance due to linguistic and geographic
barriers that should be taken into account in the development of the Web; and concluded
with the phrase that webometric researches must be conducted with caution.
Keywords: Webometrics, link analysis, web impact factor, literature review
*Author for Correspondence E-mail: akhandanandshukla@gmail.com
INTRODUCTION
The area of webometric studies is recent in
origin. The first appearance had been observed
from an article written by Rodríguez i Gairín
[1] dealing with the concept of information
impact on the Internet. The term
“webometrics” was conceptualized by Almind
and Ingwersen [2]. Ingwersen [3]
conceptualized web impact factor (WIF)
calculation based on Journal Impact Factor
(JIF) started by Eugene Garfield in 1972.
Since 1998, there have been a lot of efforts
made in this new research area by various
academicians and researchers from all over the
world.
The review of literature helps in identifying
substantive, theoretical, methodological, and
conceptual issues and addressing them
appropriately in the context of the present
study. Hence, researches which were available
from different sources in the WIF area have
been reviewed that would facilitate the
identification of the gaps, if any, in the earlier
works and the present study may help to fill
them.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Since webometrics have various dimensions,
the scope of literary review is limited to the
literature available and related to WIF studies
around the globe.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to review
the growth and development of webometric
researches in the area of WIF studies in the
world.
LITERATURE REVIEW
The literature available in the area of WIF
studies and related to webometrics has been
categorized into four sections and reviewed
accordingly. Following are the four sections of
literary review:
a. Webometrics development
b. Webometric analysis
c. Link analysis
d. WIF analysis
Webometric Development
Turnbull [4] in his study, explained the
bibliometrics as a standard method of
information analysis and further discussed its
application to measuring information on the
World Wide Web. He also advocated to apply
the theories from other disciplines (such as
Information Studies) to develop new methods,
modeling techniques and metaphors to
examine the emerging complex network as
Webometric Development in WIF Studies Shukla and Vanlalfeli
JoALS (2014) 28-36 © STM Journals 2014. All Rights Reserved Page 29
information on the Web increases towards
different measurements. Björneborn and
Ingwersen [5] elaborated the areas of
webometric research that demonstrates
interesting progress and space for
development. Further areas have been
identified for research in future which has not
been employed for conducting webometric
studies so far. In another study, Björneborn
and Ingwersen [6] defined the webometrics
within the framework of Informetrics and
Bibliometrics, as belonging to Library and
Information Science, associated it with
Cybermetrics as a generic subfield. They also
developed a consistent and detailed link
typology and terminology; and made a clear
distinction among different Web node levels
when using the proposed conceptual
framework. A novel diagram notation to
investigate link structures between the Web
nodes in webometric analyses has been
proposed by the researchers Thelwall et al. [7]
reviewed the literature, techniques and
methods of various aspects of webometrics.
The study is concerned with using link
analysis to identify patterns in academic or
scholarly Web spaces and mathematical
approaches to modeling the growth of the Web
or its internal link structure. Thelwall [8], in a
study, reviews the distance that bibliometrics
has travelled since 1958 by comparing early
bibliometrics with current practices, and by
giving an overview of a range of recent
developments, such as patent analysis, national
research evaluation exercises, new
visualization techniques, new applications,
new online citation indexes, and developments
related to the creation of digital libraries.
Webometrics, a fast-growing offshoot of
bibliometrics, is reviewed in detail and finally
future prospects of bibliometrics and
webometrics have been discussed. Thelwall
[9] reveals that most of the published
webometric research is theoretical and seems
unlikely to survive unless it is useful in some
way. Further study revealed that there has
been a turn towards applied webometrics with
several externally financed studies being
contracted. Moreover, there is a significant
amount of citations of webometric research by
disciplines outside Information Science,
including Computing, Communication Science
and Health; and concludes that there is still
progress to be made. Mukherjee [10] focuses,
in a study, on the concept of bibliometrics and
other related terms. The study divided the era
of quantitative research in two paradigms, i.e.,
pre-World Wide Web and post-World Wide
Web. The researcher established the
diagrammatic relationship of the terms
Webometrics and Cybermetrics; discussed
various domains of webometric research and
tools used for webometric researches; and
concluded that webometrics has established an
important independent domain in quantitative
research.
Webometric Analysis
First time, Thomas and Willet [11] conducted
a webometric study for LIS departments of
UK to check the linkages (or “citations”) to
websites associated with LIS departments.
They found that citation data are not well-
suited to the quantitative evaluation of the
research status of LIS departments, and that
departments can best boost their Web visibility
by hosting as wide a range of types of material
as possible. Chu et al. [12] conducted a similar
study for 53 LIS schools in Canada and USA
accredited by American Library Association
(ALA). The sites that generated the majority
of inlinks for the LIS schools were from .org,
.edu, or .net domains and links to the outside
world from the 53 schools, to a certain extent,
reveal their connectivity with other sites on the
Web. Further, suggested that webometric
research must be conducted with caution.
Nwagwu and Agarin [13] used AltaVista for
extracting Web link data of 30 Nigerian
universities websites to study the pattern and
frequency of outlinks and inlinks. The websites
have a total of 44,567 links, representing an
average of 45 links per page. Of these, about
19% were inlinks to Nigerian university
websites from other websites. There is lack of
inter-university linking among 30 Nigerian
universities websites and non-academic
websites have been linked much more than
with academic websites. Walia and Kaur [14]
analyzed the library associations’ websites of
India by using search engines Google, Yahoo,
AltaVista, and AlltheWeb; and concluded that
DLA and SIS-India have maximum WIF while
KLA had the least impact on the Web. Shukla
and Tripathi [15] conducted webometric
research for websites of Institutes of National
Importance in India and reported the present
scenario of backlinks structure of websites of
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Volume 1, Issue 3
ISSN: 2349-4352 (online)
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Institutes of National Importance of India by
examining the extent of the backlinks given by
different domains to these Institutes.
Moreover, percentage of deep link ratio,
pattern of page pointing and link-type
relationship has been examined in the study
also by using software Backlink Analyzer.
From the study, it has been found that websites
of Institutes of National Importance attracted
more inlinks from commercial Web domains
than educational or any other Web domains. In
a study, Jeyshankar and Babu [16] conducted a
webometric study for websites of universities
in Tamil Nadu and concluded the low WIF for
all universities under consideration. A similar
study conducted by Babu et al. [17] for
websites of central universities in India and
found that citation analysis and link analysis
are not analogous to each other. Further, they
investigated the domain systems of the
websites, WIF for central universities in India
and their rankings based on WIF data.
Webometric analysis for websites of private
engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu were
analyzed by Thanuskodi [18] by using
AltaVista and found that websites of private
engineering colleges of Tamil Nadu did not
have much impact on the Web. Websites of 44
private universities of Bangladesh [19] have
been examined to calculate the WIF and
Absolute WIF.
In a cross-sectional study, all the websites
were analyzed and compared using AltaVista
search engine and revealed the low WIF, self-
link, external links and Absolute WIF as well
as less impact on Web. Further, Islam [20]
initiated a webometric analysis for universities
in Bangladesh using AltaVista for finding the
simple WIF, self-link WIF and external WIF
and found the low WIF for some universities
in Bangladesh. Sri Lankan universities [21]
were investigated to find inlinks and self-link
WIFs for 19 universities websites using
AltaVista and it was found that universities of
Sri Lanka are possessing varied domains for
their home pages namely [.ac.net] and [.lk] but
most of them (89.47%) prefer the sub level
domain like [.ac]. Pechnikov and Nwohiri [22]
investigated the official websites of Nigerian
universities and revealed the weak
connectivity in the set of official websites of
Nigerian universities. However, the
connectivity becomes stronger when all the
university websites were taken into account. It
increases significantly with the addition of the
only found Web communicator to the
university websites under National
Universities Commission which approves the
establishment of higher educational
institutions in Nigeria. Further, suggested that
all universities should switch to the use of
[.edu.ng] as their top-level domains.
Thanuskodi [23] investigated the selected
Institutes of National Importance websites in
India and focused mainly on the webpage
content analysis of 10 selected Institutes of
National Importance Libraries in India; and
found that general information about
homepage features is more in Indian Institutes
of Technology and least in Indian Statistical
Institute and Indian Institute of Science.
Aguillo [24] analyzed the usefulness of
Google Scholar database for bibliometric
analysis and especially for research evaluation.
Instead of names of authors or institutions, a
webometric analysis of academic Web
domains is performed by Aguillo [24] and
bibliographic records for 225 top level
domains (TLD), 19,240 universities and 6380
research centers institutional Web domains
have been collected from the Google Scholar
database. In the investigation, it has been
found that 63.8% of the records were hosted in
generic TLDs like [.com] or [.org], confirming
that most of the Google Scholar data come
from large commercial or non-profit sources.
One-third of the other items were hosted by
the 10,442 universities, while 3901 research
centers account for an additional 7.9% from
the total. Further, the individual analysis
displayed that universities from China, Brazil,
Spain, Taiwan and Indonesia were far better
ranked than expected. Jeyshankar et al. [25]
investigated the ICMR Institutes websites in
India and their link structure has been
analyzed. Moreover, the study also
concentrated on the classification of websites
by webpage size, WAVE Web AIM
accessibility error, various search engine
performances, difference between Web pages
in various time intervals, and number of rich
files. They also presented the Link network
diagram of ICMR Institutes using Pajek.
Sujithai and Jeyshankar [26] analyzed the Web
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JoALS (2014) 28-36 © STM Journals 2014. All Rights Reserved Page 31
pages of Indian Institutes of Technology
websites retrieved by commercial search
engine. The result shows that among the four
Web pages (Link Web Page, Self Link Web
Page, External Link Web Page and Inlink Web
Page) of IIT websites, the external Link Web
Pages stand-in are important to increase the
number of Web pages.
Link Analysis
The analysis of the hyperlink structure of the
Web has led to significant improvements in
Web information retrieval [27]. The survey
described two successful link analysis
algorithms and revealed that the main use of
link analysis is currently in ranking query
results. Other areas where link analysis has
been shown to be useful are crawling, finding-
related pages, computing Web page
reputations and geographic scope, prediction
link usage, finding mirrored host, categorizing
Web pages, and computing statistics of Web
pages and of search engines. However, it has
been concluded that research of the hyperlink
structure of the Web is just at its beginning
and a much deeper understanding needs to be
gained [27]. The connectivity structure of links
between university websites in 25 Asian and
European countries as a case study of an inter-
regional and intra-regional Web phenomenon
has been analyzed by Park and Thelwall [28]
and five most linked-to universities in each
nation-state were selected. The study results
suggested that the UK has a high impact on the
formation of link-mediated academic networks
in Asia and Europe. Universities’ websites in
Asia are more heavily connected to European
universities than linked to each other. The
overall findings were indicative of
globalization rather than regionalism.
Xing and Chu [29] explored the features of
inlinks as opposed to that of citations so that
better understanding can be achieved with
regard to the limitations and implications in
using links for evaluative webometric
research. Total of 446 randomly selected cases
of hyper linking to 15 medical schools
websites were analyzed and then classified
into a revised version of a taxonomy created in
a previous study for identifying linking
motivations. The classification of the linking
data was accomplished within the context of
linking and linked sites as well as based on
reasons for hyper linking. This research shows
that only 5 and 7% of all the inlinks analyzed
were made for reasons relating respectively to
teaching/learning and research whereas 88%
of the hyperlinks the target sites received were
created for motivations relevant to service and
general nature. Thus findings demonstrated
that inlinking is not the same as citing since
inlinks exhibit features considerably different
from that of citations in several aspects.
Further, inlink counts alone cannot serve as
quality indicators for scholarly and evaluation
purposes. Other factors (e.g., authors and
intellectual contents of linked entities) have to
be considered in evaluative, link-based
webometric research.
Mandl [30] analyzes whether the number of
links pointing to a Web page is biased by the
structure of websites. By Web-design mining
methods, two collections of Web pages were
extracted and the inlink counts were
determined by querying Web search engines.
The study found that the structure bias and
pages on a higher hierarchical level were
likely to receive more links than other pages.
Moreover, the study also concluded that the
structure bias of inlinks should be considered
by link analysis measures used in search
engines. Webometric study of selected
academic libraries in Eastern and Southern
Africa using link analysis had been conducted
by Onyancha [31] in order to measure the
libraries’ Web structures, content, and
visibility. The data was extracted and analyzed
by SOCSCIBOT which consists of Matrix and
Pajek tools. Findings show that libraries in
Eastern and Southern Africa are well aware of
the benefits and opportunities of the Internet
and the Web. Despite the digital divide and
technological barriers in the third world,
librarians in the two regions have been
advanced in the construction of library
websites. The ranking of these universities
shows that South African university libraries
performed better than Botswana, Kenya,
Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Further, it
was suggested that librarians should become
more involved in the construction of library
websites and that libraries need to regularly
update their websites in order to keep up with
the current proliferation of Internet-based
resources increasingly becoming freely
available.
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Yang and Qin [32] exploited several possible
ways to meet the needs of link analysis in
webometrics and developed a prototype (Link
Discoverer) that collects data from both real-
time links and from search engines. An
experiment has been conducted to evaluate the
performance of Link Discoverer on link
analysis and results show that the Link
Discoverer’s functions can well satisfy the
needs for link analysis. This study contributes
to data collection methods and selection
strategy in webometrics and makes
recommendations for improvement. Yi and Jin
[33] analyzed the external visibility of the
websites of seven ALA-accredited Canadian
Library and Information Science schools using
the AlltheWeb search engine. Four content
clusters: LIS, research, home page and
resources were identified to group the content
of all the inlinked LIS school Web pages. In
the study it has been found that LIS cluster
was the most visible cluster and research
cluster was the least visible among all four
clusters. Moreover, the ranking of visible
clusters, topics and Web pages from the LIS
websites were also identified in the study.
Jeyshankar [34] conducted webometric
research for nationalized banks of India and
found that several versions of the metric of
Web can produce results that correlate with the
various WIFs ratings of 27 nationalized banks
websites in India showing that despite being a
measure of a purely Internet phenomenon, the
results are susceptible to a wider
interpretation. He also framed topology/link
network of Reserve Bank of India and linking
the different nodes of nationalized banks
websites in India.
Thelwall [35] compared link counts with URL
citation counts in order to assess whether the
latter could be a replacement for the former if
the major search engines withdraw their
advanced hyperlink search facilities. The study
covers 15 case studies and the results show a
high degree of correlation between the two but
with URL citations being much less numerous,
at least outside academic world and business.
Significant differences between results
indicate that the difference between link
counts and URL citation counts will vary
between webometric studies.
Web Impact Factor Analysis
First time, Ingwersen [3] investigated the
feasibility and reliability of impact factors for
websites, called web impact factor (WIF). In
the study, seven small and medium-scale
national and four large Web domains as well
as six institutional websites were taken into
account for a month using AltaVista. Data
isolation techniques and WIF calculation
methods were described; findings demonstrate
that WIFs are calculable with high confidence
for national and sector domains whilst
institutional WIFs should be approached with
caution. Following year, Smith [36] used the
concept of WIF for comparing a sample of
educational and research institutions in
Australasian countries and Latin American
countries. Overall, the websites for
Australasian institutions have a higher external
WIF than the websites for Latin American
institutions. In the study, it has been found that
specific features of websites can affect the
institution’s WIF; there is a small correlation
between the proportion of English language
pages at an institution’s website and the
institution’s WIF which indicates that for
linguistic reasons, Latin American websites
may not receive the attention that they deserve
from the World Wide Web. This raises the
possibility that information may be ignored
due to cultural, linguistic and geographic
barriers and this should be taken into account
in the development of the global Internet.
A WIF study by self-made Web Crawler [37]
for the UK universities finds that with certain
restrictions, WIFs can be calculated reliably,
but do not correlate with accepted research
rankings due to the variety of material hosted
on university servers. Following year,
Thelwall [38] compared the domains,
primarily the .edu, .ac.uk, uk domains, and the
entire Web, which were giving backlinks to
the British universities websites. The results
show that all four areas produced WIFs
strongly with research ratings, but that none
produced incontestably superior figures. It was
also found that the WIF was less able to
differentiate in more homogeneous subsets of
universities, although positive results are still
possible. Noruzi [39] calculated Web impact
factors for Iranian universities by using
AltaVista. WIFs were compared, to study the
Webometric Development in WIF Studies Shukla and Vanlalfeli
JoALS (2014) 28-36 © STM Journals 2014. All Rights Reserved Page 33
impact, visibility, and influence of Iranian
university websites and found that Iranian
university websites have a low inlink WIF
while specific features of websites may affect
an institution’s WIF. The significant
correlation between the proportion of English-
language pages at an institution’s site and the
institution’s backlink counts has been found
also which indicates that for linguistic reasons,
Iranian (Persian language) websites may not
attract the attention they deserve from the
World Wide Web. This raises the possibility
that the information may be ignored due to
linguistic and geographic barriers, and this
should be taken into account in the
development of the global Web.
Boell et al. [40] used Web impact factor data
for ranking of universities of Australia. The
study described how search engines can be
employed for automated, efficient data
gathering for webometric research by using
query-specific URLs. Further, the study
compared the usage of staff-related Web
impact factors with Web impact factors for a
ranking of Australian universities; showing
that rankings based on staff-related WIFs
correlate much better with an established
ranking from the Melbourne Institute than
commonly used WIFs. The study also
compared WIF data for Australian universities
provided by Smith and Thelwall [41] for a
longitudinal comparison of the WIF of
Australian universities over the last decade;
and results displayed that size-dependent WIF
values declined for most Australian
universities over the last ten years, while staff-
dependent WIFs shows a moving trend.
Asadi and Shekofteh [42] examined the
relationship between researches in 42 Iranian
medical universities and their WIFs by using
AltaVista. The medical universities were
divided into groups and it has been found that
Kerman, Kermanshah, Fasa, Qom Hormozgan,
Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran universities had the
highest WIFs in their respective groups.
Effectiveness of WIFs for Indian universities’
websites had been investigated by Jalal et al.
[43] by finding the link patterns among the
selected Indian universities using AltaVista
and Google. Further, for developing micro-
link topology SOCSCIBOT has been used;
and concluded that all the NITs are closely
related in the topology framework whereas
nodes are not linked significantly for the case
of state universities and central universities in
India. In another webometric analysis for
Indonesian universities [44] counts the Web
links to Indonesian universities websites using
Yahoo and rankings were generated based on
WIFs data. National Institutes of Technology
websites were analyzed in terms of
webometric indicators [45] using AltaVista
and calculated the various kinds of WIFs with
the low WIF data in conclusion. In another
similar study by Maharana et al. [46] for
Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) websites
concluded low WIF. Webometric perspective
of Malaysian universities [47] has been carried
out by using Majestic SEO and Google.
In a webometric assessment of Food Science
and Technology Institutes of Iran [48],
visibility, WIF, self-links, and total links of
websites have been studied using Yahoo and
Yahoo Site Explorer. Cluster analysis resulted
that websites had collaborated in five major
clusters in Web environment but seven
websites have remained independent. Study
concluded with a relation between inlinks with
types of services and the content of websites.
CONCLUSIONS
Bibliometrics has been found as a standard
method of information analysis and its
applications to measuring information on the
Web. The webometric researches have shown
interesting progress and space for the
development in future.
The area of webometrics has been defined
within the framework of informetrics,
bibliometrics, and cybermetrics with its own
conceptual framework including link typology
and terminology, link structures, tools and
techniques, and methodology. Further,
webometric has established an important
independent domain in quantitative research
and it is a fast-growing offshoot of
bibliometrics. LIS departments’ websites, LIS
association websites, academic institutions’
websites of various countries, inter-university
websites, etc., have been studied under the
perspective of webometrics. From the various
studies, it has been suggested that webometric
researches must be conducted with caution.
For webometric studies, search engines
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Volume 1, Issue 3
ISSN: 2349-4352 (online)
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AltaVista, AlltheWeb, Yahoo, Yahoo Site
Explorer, and Google were found suitable for
extracting Web links data; software tools like
Backlink Analyzer, SOCSCIBOT, Pajek,
Personal Web Crawler, Link Discoverer, etc.,
have been utilized for the webometric analysis.
In webometric studies, domain systems of
websites including commercial and
educational Web domains; TLD analysis; link
analysis; Web page categorization; and various
kinds of Web impact factors calculations have
been studied and concluded with low WIF in
case of academic websites. From the
researches, it has been found that citation
analysis and link analysis are not analogous to
each other; there was found a significant
correlation between the proportion of English-
language pages at an institution’s site and the
institution’s backlink counts which indicates
that for linguistic reasons, other language
websites may not attract the attention that they
deserve from the World Wide Web; and there
is a possibility that the information may be
ignored due to linguistic and geographic
barriers, and this should be taken into account
in the development of the global Web.
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... Some of the analytic tools used to calculate the impact factor include Google, ahrefs, majestic SEO to calculate the impact factor [19]. Research by [20] states that citation analysis and link analysis do not have the same analogy, while the number of backlinks has a significant relationship with English-language pages. Their opinion [20] was corroborated by [17], which states that website quality improvement is carried out by introducing one website to get more links. ...
... Research by [20] states that citation analysis and link analysis do not have the same analogy, while the number of backlinks has a significant relationship with English-language pages. Their opinion [20] was corroborated by [17], which states that website quality improvement is carried out by introducing one website to get more links. Research by [17] explained that providing services to international visitors can improve a website's ranking. ...
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