Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

U-M recognized for university Web sites

U-M ranked sixth for its Web presence among the top 4,000 universities in the latest edition of Cybermetrics Lab’s biannual Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which seeks to measure “the performance and impact of universities through their Web presence.”

According to the Spain-based research group’s Web site, the rankings — which Cybermetrics began publishing in 2004 — were originally conceived as a way of promoting open access to academic materials online.

This survey is important because of the way it measures Web sites, says John Merlin Williams, executive producer of The Digital Media Commons and director of The Duderstadt Center.

“The Cybermetrics Lab isn’t looking at page hits or visits, they are evaluating access and the amount of school information available through the Web site,” Williams says. The survey takes into account “access to the library collection and information from schools and colleges on site. Many Web rankings are based on visits each day. This looks for the amount of open access to scholarly information.”

A number of U-M schools and colleges are developing open educational resources, Williams says, including future plans for publishing open-courseware that will add to the University’s contributions of open and accessible scholarly works.

The Webometrics rankings score each university on four criteria, including the number of links to the institution’s Web site from other sites. These “inlinks” ostensibly are a good way to evaluate a site’s general impact on the Web community, according to the ranking.