About the project

This novel project maps the institutional structure of on-line government in Australia and Britain, testing claims that the Internet is increasingly blurring traditional organizational boundaries and facilitating new forms of networked governance. This project utilises the VOSON e-Research tool to map for the first time patterns of online relationships between governmental organisations across all levels of government, comparing these patterns with traditional ‘off-line’ arrangements. It also investigates the changing ‘nodality’ of contemporary government, that is, the extent to which government is at the centre of informational networks on the Internet, assessing the extent to which government is making use of the web to enhance its visibility, or being overwhelmed by private and non-governmental sectors. The analysis addresses key questions in the development of successful e-government, such as facilitating joined-up government or whether jurisdictional boundaries remain a barrier to joining up in the information age. The study compares between the UK and Australia government websites and web networks arising from government, across various public policy and service delivery domains. This comparison enables the identification of both similarities and contrasts in government’s on-line nodality and the relationship between institutional and Constitutional structure and on-line presence.

Research Team

Associate Professor Paul Henman (UQ)                                                                           

Associate Professor Robert Ackland (Australian National University, College of Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor Helen Margetts (University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute)

Tim Graham (UQ, Research Assistant)

Research Activities

The project is designed as two separate, but inter-related, phases that address both research questions:

  1. Collection of live hyperlink data for a sample of Australian and UK government websites, and analysis using both webmetrics and relational hyperlink analysis (crawl completed October 2012).
  2. Web experimentation to test the validity and accuracy of the unobtrusive on-line research methods used in Phase 1 (from June 2014).

Project Data

VOSON crawl data will be made available for analysis in due course.


Henman, P., Ackland, R., & Graham, T. (2014). Community Structure in e-Government Hyperlink Networks. Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on e-Government (ECEG '14), 12-13 June, Brasov, Romania.

Henman, P., Ackland, R., & Graham, T. (2014). Social Policy on the Web: The Online Institutional Structure of Social Policy Domains in the UK. Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on e-Government (ECEG '14), 12-13 June, Brasov, Romania.


Henman, P. (2013). ‘Social security in an age of big data and automation: where might we be heading and what are the issues?’, National Welfare Rights Network Conference, Brisbane (invited keynote paper), 21-23 July 2013. 

Henman, P., Ackland, R., & Graham, T. & Chen, L. (2013). ‘Social Policy on the Web: the institutional structure of social policy domains in the UK’, Social Policy Association Conference 2013: Social Policy in Challenging Times, Sheffield, UK, 8-10 July 2013. 

Henman, P., Ackland, R., & Graham, T. (2014). 'Exploring the Structure of Government on the Web’, Daegu Gyeongbuk International Social Network Conference (DISC) 2013, Deagu, South Korea, 12-14 December 2013.

Ackland, R. (2014). 'Exploring the Structure of Government on the Web', Smart Sensing & Big Data Analytics Conference, Canberra, Australia, 3-4 March 2014.


Paul Henman, Robert Ackland and Helen Margetts, The institutional structure of e−government: a cross−policy, cross−country comparison, ARC Discovery Grant (DP10100446)

Project members

Professor Paul Henman

Chief Investigator and UQ Node Leader (ADM+S Centre)
School of Social Science
School of Social Science