Web Science

Socio-technological phenomena of the World Wide Web

Basic and application-oriented research at the Web Science unit focuses on scientific communication (of economists) via Social Media. The research work is grouped around three major themes: a) Open Science and science communication, b) usability and information behavioural research and c) quantitative science research. The aim is to get a holistic concept and a comprehensive understanding of web-based working practices, collaborative usage behaviour, requirements for tools and emerging contents in digital information spaces.

With this in mind, the research unit Web Science focuses on the following questions:

  • How do researchers use the currently available participatory tools on the World Wide Web?
  • What are the general aspects of the interaction between the usage of such modern tools and research, particularly in economics?
  • What are the requirements that tools must fulfil if they are to support research work even better than before?

The research unit closely cooperates with the Open Science Transfer department of the ZBW.

Current projects and cooperations:

ROARA (Repercussions of Open Access on Research Assessment)

Scientific publications are of central importance in research evaluation. Therefore, changes in the academic publishing system have a direct impact on research evaluation systems.

Open access policies and mandates are significantly changing the traditional publishing system, to which the academic community and publishers are responding with different strategies.

The ROARA project uses a mixed-methods approach to analyse research assessment systems in the context of the latest open access policies.

The aim of the project is to provide empirical evidence regarding the collision of economic and scientific interests with a focus on the close relationship between publications and research evaluation.

VOICES (Value of Openness, Inclusion, Communication, and Engagement for Science in a Post-Pandemic World)

The Value of Openness, Inclusion, Communication, and Engagement for Science in a Post-Pandemic World (VOICES) project seeks to investigate and share new empirical evidence of the value of opening science, to other scholars and to the public, during and beyond the pandemic. VOICES brings together a transnational team of scholars with expertise in open science, scholarly and science communication, and research impact, to understand, document, and measure how the new interplay between researchers, policymakers, science communicators, and the public have affected research, and the role of research in society.

DESIVE2: Understanding desinformation behaviour

The project DESIVE2 aims to develop a thorough characterisation and classification of apparently scientific desinformation from the practical use case of health information. The project will study the underlying mechanisms of the digital dissemination of seemingly scientific desinformation.
Project publications and further information

Completed projects:

Meaningful Data Counts

(concluded in 10/2023)
The Meaningful Data Counts research project aims to improve the understanding of the role that datasets play in scholarly communication. The project aims to provide empirical evidence on data usage and data citation. The researchers seek to discover data sharing and citation patterns across academic disciplines and researchers’ career stages. They also analyse the underlying motivations to (not) share or cite datasets.
Project publications

"Open Access Effects" - the influence of structural and author-specific factors on the impact of OA publications (OASE)

(concluded in 2023)
The OASE project described the transformation process from traditional to Open Access (OA) publishing from a bibliometric view, and analysed existing (and potentially future) publication strategies and conflicts in connection with Open Access.


(concluded in 2022)
Medicine has a high affinity towards quantitative methods of performance evaluation and the use of metrics for decision making, steering and assessments. This is apparent in many situations (performance-guided allocation of funds, diagnosis related groups, journal impact factors in appointment procedures etc.). Within the context of this project, procedures for measuring research output were of primary interest. QuaMedFo-ZBW systematically analysed a comprehensive sample of medical literature and topics with regard to both quantity and content.


(concluded in 2022)
The MeWiKo project described and quantified the effect of external science communication on the impact of scholarly publications. It analysed the influence of external science communication, in particular the dissemination of scientific content through journalistic media (i.e. high-circulation national dailies) and social media (i.e. Twitter, blogs), on the citation rates and altmetrics of publications.

*metrics – MEasuring The Reliability and perception of Indicators for interactions with sCientific productS

(DFG, 2017-2019)
The main objective of this project was to develop a deeper understanding of *metrics, especially in terms of their general significance and their perception amongst stakeholders.

To this end, key considerations included the quality of *metrics underlying data (in terms of validity and reliability), the historical context within which *metrics arose, as well as their ability to adequately assess scientific outputs against the background of disciplinary specificities.

The project's findings benefit *metrics users (e.g., researchers, research funders), information services and libraries, as well as *metrics providers, enabling *metrics informed use and widening our knowledge about their limitations and possibilities for interpretation.
Project publications
Project final report