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Methods for reporting on the targets of links from national systems of university Web sites

Information Processing & Management
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0306-4573(02)00083-3
  • Web Links
  • Scholarly Communication
  • Linking Models
  • Communication


Abstract Whilst hyperlinks within Web sites may be primarily created for navigation purposes, those between sites are a rich source of information about the content and use of the Web. As a result there is a need to derive descriptive statistics about them, both to help understand the underlying communication processes and so that policy makers can gain insights into the use of online information by those located within their constituency. It is known, however, that using the individual Web link source page as the basic unit of counting is problematical because of the number and size of link anomalies. The challenge addressed in this paper is that of developing methods to assess techniques for counting links from groups of large university Web sites (site outlinks). Two methods to assess the reliability of link counts are developed and applied to judge which of seven advanced document models are most appropriate in each case. The most generally applicable method used is an internal consistency test based upon a highly simplified model of Web linking behaviour. The data used comes from crawls of UK, Australian and New Zealand universities. The standard domain advanced Web document model emerges as the logical choice for comparison purposes within this set. Some descriptive statistics concerning Top Level Domain link targets are given and it is demonstrated that the choice of model can affect the final results.

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