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Abstract

In recent years, a considerable body of Webometric research has used hyperlinks to generate indicators for the impact of Web documents and the organizations that created them. The relationship between this Web impact and other, offline impact indicators has been explored for entire universities, departments, countries, and scientific journals, but not yet for individual scientists—an important omission. The present research closes this gap by investigating factors that may influence the Web impact (i.e., inlink counts) of scientists' personal homepages. Data concerning 456 scientists from five scientific disciplines in six European countries were analyzed, showing that both homepage content and personal and institutional characteristics of the homepage owners had significant relationships with inlink counts. A multivariate statistical analysis confirmed that full-text articles are the most linked-to content in homepages. At the individual homepage level, hyperlinks are related to several offline characteristics. Notable differences regarding total inlinks to scientists' homepages exist between the scientific disciplines and the countries in the sample. There also are both gender and age effects: fewer external inlinks (i.e., links from other Web domains) to the homepages of female and of older scientists. There is only a weak relationship between a scientist's recognition and homepage inlinks and, surprisingly, no relationship between research productivity and inlink counts. Contrary to expectations, the size of collaboration networks is negatively related to hyperlink counts. Some of the relationships between hyperlinks to homepages and the properties of their owners can be explained by the content that the homepage owners put on their homepage and their level of Internet use; however, the findings about productivity and collaborations do not seem to have a simple, intuitive explanation. Overall, the results emphasize the complexity of the phenomenon of Web linking, when analyzed at the level of individual pages.