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SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

The quality and impact of academic Web sites is of interest to many audiences, including the scholars who use them and Web educators who need to identify best practice. Several large-scale European Union research projects have been funded to build new indicators for online scientific activity, reflecting recognition of the importance of the Web for scholarly communication. In this paper we address the key question of whether higher rated scholars produce higher impact Web sites, using the United Kingdom as a case study and measuring scholars' quality in terms of university-wide average research ratings. Methodological issues concerning the measurement of the online impact are discussed, leading to the adoption of counts of links to a university's constituent single domain Web sites from an aggregated counting metric. The findings suggest that universities with higher rated scholars produce significantly more Web content but with a similar average online impact. Higher rated scholars therefore attract more total links from their peers, but only by being more prolific, refuting earlier suggestions. It can be surmised that general Web publications are very different from scholarly journal articles and conference papers, for which scholarly quality does associate with citation impact. This has important implications for the construction of new Web indicators, for example that online impact should not be used to assess the quality of small groups of scholars, even within a single discipline.