PhD thesis in webometrics

Bjorneborn, Lennart lb at DB.DK
Sat May 15 10:32:00 EDT 2004

Dear all,

Some of you may be interested in my recent PhD thesis in webometrics:

Björneborn, Lennart (2004). Small-world link structures across an academic
web space : a library and information science approach. PhD thesis. Royal
School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark. xxxvi, 399
p. ISBN 87-7415-276-9. Available:
[6.0 MB]

Main supervisor: Peter Ingwersen
Project supervisor: Mike Thelwall

Assessment committee: Ronald Rousseau, Olle Persson and Niels Ole Pors


The dissertation is concerned with small-world link structures in the shape
of short link distances across an academic web space through paths of links
from web site to web site. Small-world web spaces are concerned with core
library and information science (LIS) issues as navigability and
accessibility of information across vast document networks containing
self-organized macro-structures constructed through distributed knowledge
organization by millions of local web actors. For instance, short link
distances affect the speed and exhaustivity with which web crawlers can
reach and retrieve web pages when following links from web page to web page.

The main research question is concerned with what types of web links, web
pages and web sites function as connectors across dissimilar topical domains
in an academic web space. The dissertation is situated within the new
research field of webometrics concerned with the study of quantitative
aspects of the construction and use of information resources, structures and
technologies on the Web, drawing on bibliometric and informetric approaches.
The dissertation incorporates approaches from graph theory and social
network analysis into this framework.

The dissertation introduces a 'corona' web graph model and a five-step
methodology in order to sample, identify and characterize small-world
properties by 'zooming' stepwise into more and more fine-grained web node
levels among 7669 subsites harvested at 109 UK universities. Detailed case
studies comprise 10 shortest path nets containing all shortest link paths in
both directions between five pairs of topically dissimilar subsites.
Indicative findings suggest that personal link creators, such as researchers
and students, as well as computer science-related subsites may be important
connectors across sites and topics in the investigated academic web space.

A metaphor of crumpled-up paper is used to conceptualize small-world network
structures. Further, the dissertation gives an intuitive support to how the
Web may be conceived as a web of genres with a rich diversity of interlinked
page genres and with genre drift, that is, changes in genres of pages along
link paths. The dissertation discusses hypothesized complementarities of
topical uniformity and diversity  (including topic drift and genre drift) in
the formation of small-world link structures. It is argued there is a need
for extending the traditional overall aim and explanatory framework of LIS
research, so it encompasses both convergent (goal-directed) and divergent
(serendipitous) information behavior conducted by users in both 'top-down'-
and 'bottom-up'-constructed information systems.

More information available at

Kind regards,
Lennart Björneborn

Lennart Björneborn, PhD, Assistant Professor
Royal School of Library and Information Science
Department of Information Studies
Birketinget 6, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark
Tel: +45 3258 6066  Fax: +45 3284 0201
Email: lb at  Homepage:

Connecto ergo sum :-)

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