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Can Google's PageRank be used to find the most important academic Web pages?

Mike Thelwall (School of Computing and Information Technology, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 April 2003



Google's PageRank is an influential algorithm that uses a model of Web use that is dominated by its link structure in order to rank pages by their estimated value to the Web community. This paper reports on the outcome of applying the algorithm to the Web sites of three national university systems in order to test whether it is capable of identifying the most important Web pages. The results are also compared with simple inlink counts. It was discovered that the highest inlinked pages do not always have the highest PageRank, indicating that the two metrics are genuinely different, even for the top pages. More significantly, however, internal links dominated external links for the high ranks in either method and superficial reasons accounted for high scores in both cases. It is concluded that PageRank is not useful for identifying the top pages in a site and that it must be combined with a powerful text matching techniques in order to get the quality of information retrieval results provided by Google.



Thelwall, M. (2003), "Can Google's PageRank be used to find the most important academic Web pages?", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 59 No. 2, pp. 205-217.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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