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Web links as analogues of citations (26 Jul 2004)
This exploratory study addresses the question of the extent to which Web links are analagous to conventional citations. It proposes a classification for Web links, based on classifying source and target pages, as well as the reason for linking. The classification method was applied to links made to a small sample of research-oriented sites. Not surprisingly, a high proportion of links were made from directory or subject guides. Formal publications (technical reports, e-journal articles, conference papers) were noticeable as targets of links, but less so as sources. Formal research citations only amounted to 10% of all citations. However if a broader definition of research oriented Web links is used, 20% of the links in this sample could be regarded as analagous to citations.

This study reinforces the view that the nature of Web links are more varied than print citations. However in the case of links made to these research-oriented sites, a sizeable minority were analagous to citations.
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