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Scholarly use of the web: What are the key inducers of links to journal web sites?

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Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

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Web links have been studied by information scientists for at least six years but it is only in the past two that clear evidence has emerged to show that counts of links to scholarly Web spaces (universities and departments) can correlate significantly with research measures, giving some credence to their use for the investigation of scholarly communication. This paper reports on a study to investigate the factors that influence the creation of links to journal Web sites. An empirical approach is used: collecting data and testing for significant patterns. The specific questions addressed are whether site age and site content are inducers of links to a journal's Web site as measured by the ratio of link counts to Journal Impact Factors, two variables previously discovered to be related. A new methodology for data collection is also introduced that uses the Internet Archive to obtain an earliest known creation date for Web sites. The results show that both site age and site content are significant factors for the disciplines studied: library and information science, and law. Comparisons between the two fields also show disciplinary differences in Web site characteristics. Scholars and publishers should be particularly aware that richer content on a journal's Web site tends to generate links and thus the traffic to the site.

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