Information Consulting

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Web Impact Factor: A Critical Review

Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to analyze the link-based web site impact measure known as the web impact factor (WIF). It is a quantitative tool for evaluating and ranking web sites, top-level domains and sub-domains. The paper also aims to discuss the WIF's advantages and disadvantages, data collection problems, and validity and reliability of WIF results.
Design/methodology/approach – A key to webometric studies has been the use of large-scale search engines, such as Yahoo! and AltaVista that allow measurements to be made of the total number of pages in a web site and the total number of back-links to the web site. These search engines provide similar possibilities for the investigation of links between web sites/pages to those provided by the academic journals citation databases from the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI). But the content of the web is not of the same nature and quality as the databases maintained by the ISI.
Findings – This paper reviews how the WIF has been developed and applied. It has been suggested that web impact factors can be calculated as a way of comparing the attractiveness of web sites or domains on the web. It is concluded that, while the WIF is arguably useful for quantitative intra-country comparison, application beyond this (i.e. to inter-country assessment) has little value.
Originality/value – The paper offers a critical review of literature on the WIF and associated indicators.
Keywords Worldwide web, Measurement, Data collection, Search engines, Databases
Paper type Literature review

Noruzi, Alireza (2006). The Web Impact Factor: A Critical Review. The Electronic Library 24(4): 490-500.
Available at E-LIS:
http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00005543/

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