Increasing institutional web presence: the OER impact factor

Last month webometrics, which ranks world universities based on global performance and web visibility, was published. The ranking has been published twice each year since 2004 and covers over 17,000 higher educational institutions worldwide.

The ranking, which measures visibility of HE institution, has as one of its main objectives the motivation of institutions and scholars to have a web presence that accurately reflects their activities, especially those related to the processes of generating and communicating scientific knowledge.

The methodology used by webometrics for arriving at a web impact factor (WIF), and hence a rank, include

  • link analysis (i.e. the number of external in-links)
  • the number of pages of a website
  • the number of documents from rich files in a web domain
  • the number of publications collected through Google Scholar database.

Not too surprisingly, MIT came first in the world ranking and this has been directly linked to its huge OpencourseWare programme. UK universities that featured in the top 100 include Cambridge, Oxford, The Open University, Nottingham and Leeds, all of which have vibrant open educational resource (OER) programmes. The same reason, i.e. open access initiative, is reported to account for the improved performance in the league table of other European universities in Norway, Spain and Portugal.

Whilst the methodology for generating data for ranking the Universities can be queried, the fact cannot be ignored that institutional open access policy initiatives, aimed at promoting and increasing the volume and quality of electronic publications of an institution, is an important factor in web visibility and hence contributes to the perceived quality of education and academic prestige of that institution.

We are encouraged by such news to press on with OTTER. Hopefully, the University of Leicester, which currently is ranked 383, will improve its rating in future webometrics.

Samuel Nikoi

OER Evaluator

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