February 25, 2010–In today’s world, the Internet is the tool university scholars use most often to share the results of their research. Through a scientific examination of the scholarly output of universities on the Web, the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities places the University of Utah (the U) at 48th best out of more than 18,000 others worldwide. That’s an improvement of eight spots from the previous ranking.
The Webometrics ranking is an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group belonging to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain. The organization’s Web site states the following: “Web presence measures the activity and visibility of the institutions and it is a good indicator of impact and prestige of universities.”
Webometrics also compared universities in the United States and Canada against each other for scholarly output. In that ranking, the U came in 44th among the 100 schools ranked in North America. It is the only Utah university to make the top 50.
Webometrics says analyzing a school’s Internet activity is a good way to judge its contribution to the academic community. “Our faculty and students continue to share more and more quality research on the Web,” said Paula Millington, director of media solutions in University Information Technology at the U. “We continually track statistics on our Web performance, but this ranking gives us a view of how important we are to students and researchers around the world in comparison to other universities. We’re thrilled to be in the top 50.”
The methodology used to determine how schools are ranked by Webometrics is scientific and based on four factors: size, visibility, rich files, and scholarship. Size is the number of pages recovered from four search engines: Google, Yahoo, Live Search, and Exalead. Visibility is determined by the total number of unique external links received (“inlinks”) obtained from Yahoo Search. Rich files, such as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), Adobe PostScript (.ps), Microsoft Word (.doc) and Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt), were selected for evaluation of their relevance to academic and publication activities. Scholarship represents papers, reports and other academic items provided by Google Scholar.
The creators of the Webometrics ranking say, “We intend to motivate both institutions and scholars to have a Web presence that reflect[s] accurately their activities. If the Web performance of an institution is below the expected position according to their academic excellence, university authorities should reconsider their Web policy, promoting substantial increases of the volume and quality of their electronic publications.”
For more information about the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities go to http://www.webometrics.info.