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Link Analysis

Mike Thelwall

Subject Communication Studies » Human Communication and Technology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


With the increasing migration of communication and information provision to the web, new research methods are emerging to cope with the challenge of understanding the implications of this change. Link analysis is the study of hyperlinks between websites in order to discover (1) why they were created and what they are used for, (2) online networks or patterns of behavior, or (3) insights into reflected patterns of offline behavior. Link analyses have been conducted on themed collections of websites or web pages, such as those owned by a selected group of politicians, universities, or nongovernmental organizations campaigning around a specific issue. Link analysis is particularly suitable for gaining rapid initial insights into offline topics that have an online reflection (e.g., left–right political debates, news events) and for analyzing how the web is used for communication in particular situations (e.g., elections) or the role of particular web genres (e.g., blogs). The strength of link analysis is the ease with which practitioners can gain fast insights into a topic of interest, especially with the new generation of free link-analysis software. The main drawback is the casualness with which links are often created, which inhibits making strong inferences, forming generalizations, and making future predictions. It is useful to distinguish between different types of links . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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