The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, also known as Ranking Web of Universities, is a ranking system for the world’s universities based on a composite indicator that takes into account both the volume of the Web content (number of web pages and files) and the visibility and impact of these web publications according to the number of external links (site citations) they received.
The webometrics ranking is published by the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) located in Madrid. The Lab acts as an Observatory of the Science and Technology on the Web. Isidro F. Aguillo is the head of the Laboratory and the editor-in-chief of the webometrics Rankings.
The aim of the webometrics Ranking is to improve the presence of the academic and research institutions on the Web and to promote the open access publication of scientific results. The webometrics ranking started in 2004 and is updated every January and July. Today it provides Web indicators for more than 12,000 universities worldwide.
Objectives of Webometrics Ranking of Universities
The Webometrics Ranking is a ranking system based on university web presence, visibility and web access. This ranking system measures how strongly a university is present in the web by its own web domain, sub-pages, rich files, scholarly articles etc. The central hypothesis of this approach is that web presence is a reliable indicator of the global performance and prestige of the universities and as such, is an indirect way to measure all the university missions (teaching, research, transfer).
Although the Web is universally recognized as one of the most relevant tools for scholarly communication, it is still very rare these indicators are used for the evaluation of the scientific research and the academic performance of universities. Webometric indicators are provided to show the commitment of the institutions to Web publication.
A research paper in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Scientometrics found “reasonable similarities” between the Webometrics rankings and other prominent university rankings despite using a very different set of features to determine each university’s rank. These similarities were increased when the comparison was limited solely to European universities.
Top universities are publishing millions of pages produced by dozens of departments and services, hundreds of research teams and thousands of scholars. Strong web presence informs of a wide variety of factors that are clearly correlated with the global quality of the institution: widespread availability of computer resources available, global internet literacy, policies promoting democracy and freedom of speech, competition for international visibility or support of open access initiatives, among others.