11 February 2009

Webometrics: Ranking the World's Universities

How university web sites rank does not necessarily reflect their academic excellence, of course. But a research company that offers rankings suggests that an institution compare its "webometric ranking" and its self-perceived excellence and ask hard questions about any difference.

The company is Cybermetrics Lab of Spain and the web project is the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities (link opens to the top 50 of the top 4000 institutions worldwide). The preponderance of U.S. universities is immediately visible. Stats backing up that preponderance are available from the menu.

Sampling the front page of the top 4000: MIT, Stanford, and Harvard are at the top. Iowa State closes the page in 50th position.

That American universities would lead in the rankings could be predicted. First, U.S. academic institutions were among the first organizations to build sites, especially "deep" sites to support archived materials and projects. Second, the technical talent located on campuses supports the work. Third, the marketing aspects of the web have been well understood in the States.

Cybermetrics started ranking university web sites in 2005. Today, they attract 2000 - 6000 unique visitors a day, which they document through a link to StatCounter ("Statistics" link on the menu). Their formula combines four indicators: visibility (50%), size (20%), rich files (15%), and citations (15%). Visibility is measured by external inlinks (from other web sites). Size refers to number of web pages, as determined by several search engines. Rich flies is a tally of PDF, Postscript, Word, and PowerPoint file types. Citations are tallied by Google Scholar. (See Methodology on their menu for full details.)

Locate the right-hand menu to access rankings of repositories, hospitals, business schools, and research centers.

Non-technical conclusions about how institutions may improve their web ranking are offered under the menu item, Best Practices.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

No comments: