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On measuring the impact of hyperlinks on reading

On measuring the impact of hyperlinks on reading
On measuring the impact of hyperlinks on reading
We increasingly spend a vast amount of time on the Web and much of that time is spent reading. One of the main differences between reading non-Web based text and reading on the Web is the presence of hyperlinks within the text, linking various related Web content and Web pages together. Some researchers and commentators have claimed that hyperlinks hinder reading because they are a distraction that may have a negative effect on the reader’s ability to process the text. However, very few controlled experiments have been conducted to verify these claims.

In the experiments documented here we utilise eye tracking as a new methodology for examining how we read hyperlinked text. An eye tracker was used to observe participant’s behaviour while reading. The results showed that hyperlinked text did not generally have a negative impact upon reading behaviour. However, participants did show a tendency to re-read sentences that contained hyperlinked uncommon (low frequency) words. This suggests that hyperlinks highlight important information to the reader and the hyperlinks add additional content which for more difficult concepts, invites rereading of the preceding text.
hyperlinks, reading, web science, psychology, human computer interaction, eye movements, visual cognition
65-74
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark J.
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark J.
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce

Fitzsimmons, Gemma, Weal, Mark J. and Drieghe, Denis (2013) On measuring the impact of hyperlinks on reading. Proceedings of the 5th Annual ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci '13), France. 02 - 04 May 2013. pp. 65-74. (doi:10.1145/2464464.2464501).

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

We increasingly spend a vast amount of time on the Web and much of that time is spent reading. One of the main differences between reading non-Web based text and reading on the Web is the presence of hyperlinks within the text, linking various related Web content and Web pages together. Some researchers and commentators have claimed that hyperlinks hinder reading because they are a distraction that may have a negative effect on the reader’s ability to process the text. However, very few controlled experiments have been conducted to verify these claims.

In the experiments documented here we utilise eye tracking as a new methodology for examining how we read hyperlinked text. An eye tracker was used to observe participant’s behaviour while reading. The results showed that hyperlinked text did not generally have a negative impact upon reading behaviour. However, participants did show a tendency to re-read sentences that contained hyperlinked uncommon (low frequency) words. This suggests that hyperlinks highlight important information to the reader and the hyperlinks add additional content which for more difficult concepts, invites rereading of the preceding text.

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More information

Published date: 4 May 2013
Venue - Dates: Proceedings of the 5th Annual ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci '13), France, 2013-05-02 - 2013-05-04
Keywords: hyperlinks, reading, web science, psychology, human computer interaction, eye movements, visual cognition
Organisations: Web & Internet Science, Research Performance, Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 356635
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/356635
PURE UUID: 114b13a5-c712-4f70-a941-0443e4cfb26d
ORCID for Gemma Fitzsimmons: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4519-0499
ORCID for Mark J. Weal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6251-8786

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 11 Sep 2013 09:45
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 13:25

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Contributors

Author: Gemma Fitzsimmons ORCID iD
Author: Mark J. Weal ORCID iD
Author: Denis Drieghe

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