Web structure and influence of the Arab universities of the MENA zone (Middle East and North Africa)
Aslib Proceedings, Volume 65, Issue 6
, Page 623-643, November 2013.
Purpose – This article aims to display the structure and reveal the web influence of institutions in the MENA zone, in geographic terms (country) and academic terms (universities), by means of their links. Design/methodology/approach – Using search engines and webcrawlers designed to gather information about web links, in conjunction with visualization techniques and degree indicators based on social network analysis, the authors achieved their objective and found responses to a series of pertinent research questions. Findings – There is no direct relationship between the number of university websites and the number of inlinks. Linking between countries in the MENA zone obeys patterns of vicinity and geopolitics. Arab universities are interlinked following trends governed by territorial proximity. There is a strong endogamic tendency, with universities from a single country citing each other, particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia. The authors present the first ranking of web influence in the MENA zone based on network indicators, namely country and university, and their order is corroborated by comparison with other rankings of a webometric or scientometric nature. Research limitations/implications – Studies of this type cannot be undertaken again, at least not from the web link perspective, as Yahoo!, Google and Bing have since blocked the webcrawlers that attempt to carry out searches of inlinking or co-inlinking between/among sites. Hence, this work can be considered both a pioneer and the last of its kind. The authors do not know if or when it will be possible to again make queries about URLs in webs or, alternatively, in titles. Originality/value – This is the first visual report of the web structure underlying the countries and universities of the MENA zone. It is also the first time that a country and university ranking of this geopolitical zone has been carried out using network indicators based on web links.