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Web link counts correlate with ISI Impact Factors: Evidence from two Disciplines

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Proceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting

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This paper reports on a study that compares counts of links to the home pages of academic journals with the citation based Impact Factor for two disciplines: library and information science; and law. A significant correlation between these two measures was found for both subjects covered with law showing a weaker relationship, although neither relationship was particularly strong. The weakness may be attributable to journal specific factors that encourage more linking such as: computing-related content or particularly well developed Web sites; and wide distribution, perhaps including to a non-academic audience that may link to the journal but would not be citing it. It is also possible that insularity in a discipline may inhibit link counts but not Impact Factors. This exercise can be seen as (a) a useful way to re-examine the journal Impact Factors and (b) investigating a technique that is a potential source of additional information about the impact of a journal, particularly in terms of reaching out beyond a purely academic audience. The technical issues discussed show, however, the need for careful data collection and interpretation of results.

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