Web search volume as a predictor of academic fame: An exploration of Google trends

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Abstract

Searches conducted on web search engines reflect the interests of users and society. Google Trends, which provides information about the queries searched by users of the Google web search engine, is a rich data source from which a wealth of information can be mined. We investigated the possibility of using web search volume data from Google Trends to predict academic fame. As queries are language-dependent, we studied universities from two countries with different languages, the United States and Spain. We found a significant correlation between the search volume of a university name and the university's academic reputation or fame. We also examined the effect of some Google Trends features, namely, limiting the search to a specific country or topic category on the search volume data. Finally, we examined the effect of university sizes on the correlations found to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the relationships.

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