Introduction to Webometrics

Introduction to Webometrics

Quantitative Web Research for the Social Sciences

Michael Thelwall,
ISBN: 9781598299939 | PDF ISBN: 9781598299946
Copyright © 2009 | 116 Pages | Publication Date: 01/01/2009

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Webometrics is concerned with measuring aspects of the web: web sites, web pages, parts of web pages, words in web pages, hyperlinks, web search engine results. The importance of the web itself as a communication medium and for hosting an increasingly wide array of documents, from journal articles to holiday brochures, needs no introduction. Given this huge and easily accessible source of information, there are limitless possibilities for measuring or counting on a huge scale (e.g., the number of web sites, the number of web pages, the number of blogs) or on a smaller scale (e.g., the number of web sites in Ireland, the number of web pages in the CNN web site, the number of blogs mentioning Barack Obama before the 2008 presidential campaign). This book argues that it can be useful for social scientists to measure aspects of the web and explains how this can be achieved on both a small and large scale. The book is intended for social scientists with research topics that are wholly or partly online (e.g., social networks, news, political communication) and social scientists with offline research topics with an online reflection, even if this is not a core component (e.g., diaspora communities, consumer culture, linguistic change). The book is also intended for library and information science students in the belief that the knowledge and techniques described will be useful for them to guide and aid other social scientists in their research. In addition, the techniques and issues are all directly relevant to library and information science research problems.

Table of Contents

Web Impact Assessment
Link Analysis
Blog Searching
Automatic Search Engine Searches: LexiURL Searcher
Web Crawling: SocSciBot
Search Engines and Data Reliability
Tracking User Actions Online
Advaned Techniques
Summary and Future Directions

About the Author(s)

Michael Thelwall, University of Wolverhampton
Michael Thelwall is professor of information science and leader of the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He is also visiting fellow of the Amsterdam Virtual Knowledge Studio, a docent at Abo Akademi University Department of Information Studies, and a research associate at the Oxford Internet Institute. He has developed tools for downloading and analyzing web sites, blogs, and social networking sites, including the research web crawler SocSciBot and software for statistical and topological analyses of site structures (through links) and site content (through text). He has published 145 refereed journal articles, seven book chapters, and the book Link Analysis: An Information Science Approach; is an associate editor of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology; and sits on eight other editorial boards.



The amount of information on the Web and the way user activities are reflected in Web content are continuously evolving. The Web greatly affects our perception of real-world objects. Even though the Web manipulates virtual objects, these objects often represent real-world objects. Therefore, in the 1990s, the Web was identified as an important source for measuring various characteristics of real objects, such as impact assessment, based on their appearance on the Web. The book's introduction is concerned with presenting the basic principles of measuring selected aspects of the Web. As the title suggests, the book is solely an introduction to the topic. This book presents basic Webometrics techniques and examples of particular metrics. It also serves as a guide for realizing a particular metric with existing software tools.

The author points out that the book is for social scientists, library and information scientists, and especially students. My background is in informatics and I study Webometrics in order to improve Web search and perform personalized recommendations; this book is not for readers like me.

The author clearly presents the rather complex technical issues related to Webometrics (algorithms). Even though some of the chapters are considerably oversimplified, the book as a whole serves its intended purpose.

In summary, the book is an ideal resource for getting acquainted with the field of Webometrics at a user level. While it is too introductory and superficial for an in-depth understanding of particular metrics, its user-oriented approach makes it a suitable resource for undergraduate students in social and/or information sciences.
M. Bielikova - ACM Computing Reviews

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