The Web has changed the way in which many researchers access scientific information, conduct research, communicate their findings, and share data. There is now a need to assess the impact of Web publication in order to promote wider and better use of this new medium.1 Recent attempts have been made to go beyond the strict use of bibliometric indicators. Shanghai Jiao Tong University has published a ranking2 of the top 500 universities, in which numbers of publications and citations were combined with other criteria such as institution size or the number of Nobel prizes awarded to alumni.

The Web offers advantages as institutions represent "natural units," with their own institutional domains that mark their presence on the Internet. Since most institutions have a specific Internet domain or subdomain for all their Web pages,3 quantitative data can be extracted using specifically designed crawlers, or the robots of the...

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