Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New International Ranking

 A new ranking has appeared, the CWUR World Universities Rankings published by the Center for World University Ranking in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The top ten are:

1.  Harvard
2.  MIT
3.  Stanford
4.  Cambridge
5.  Caltech
6.  Princeton
7.  Oxford
8.  Yale
9.  Columbia
10. UC Berkeley

The criteria are:
  • Quality of Faculty. This is based on full time faculty members who have won a variety of awards, including the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal, as in the Shanghai rankings, and     others such as the Abel, Templeton and World Food Prizes. Weighting of 4.
  • Quality of research: Publications in top journals. For science and the social sciences top journals are those included in the ISI journal citation reports weighted according to the Article Impact Score (AIS). For the humanities, the list of journals is compiled from the INT1 set of prestigious international journals published by the European reference Index for the Humanities. Weighting of 1.
  • Quality of Research: Highly influential research. This is based on the number of publications in journals multiplied by the journals' AIS. Weighting of 1.
  • Quality of Research: Citations. This includes citations from journals in science, the social sciences and the arts and humanities. Weighting of 1.
  • Quality of Research: Patents. Weighting of 1.
  • Alumni who have won awards -- listed under Quality of Faculty -- relative to the institution's size, which is determined by current enrollment.Weighting of 4.
  • Number of alumni who are heads of companies in the Forbes Global 2000 list. Weighting of 4.
Basically, this is an expanded and elaborated version of the Shanghai ARWU. Like the Shanghai rankings, the CWUR rankings claim to assess quality of teaching by the accomplishments of alumni although they use many more international prizes. Similarly, faculty quality is assessed by the number of staff who have won these prizes. The quality of research is measured by four factors rather than three and these may be more resistant to manipulation than the highly cited researchers indicator in the Shanghai rankings. In addition, the new rankings include publications and citations in the arts and humanities.
The top 100 includes several medical schools and graduate only and specialised institutions like Rockefeller University and UC San Francisco. There are five Japanese universities and one Korean  but none from Hong Kong or mainland China. A indication of the ranking's objectivity is that Israeli schools do well.

It is disappointing that the new rankings include only 100 institutions. Also, they do not give scores but only rank order for the various indicators, something that will make it difficult to track performance if further editions appear.

If the CWUR rankings had appeared in 2003 at the same time as the Shanghai rankings they would have been judged to be more comprehensive and valid.  But, after nine years Shanghai is the market leader for research-based rankings and catching up will be a difficult task.

Friday, July 27, 2012

If you want to be a millionaire, go to...

Skandia Millionaire Monitor has conducted a survey of millionaires in several countries. British millionaires were asked which university they had attended. The top five were:

1.  London
2.  Oxford
3.  Cambridge
4.  Leeds
5.  Manchester

Something interesting is that at every university except St. Andrews, including Oxford and Cambridge, state school educated millionaires outnumbered those with a private education.

Friday, July 13, 2012

UI GreenMetric World University Rankings

Universitas Indonesia has been asking universities to take part in a ranking based on "university sustainability."  According to UI:

"The world faces unprecedented civilizational challenges such as population trends, global warming, and overexploitation of natural resources, oil-dependent energy, water and food shortages and sustainability. We realize that higher education has a crucial role to play in addressing these challenges. UI Green Metric raises awareness as it helps assess and compare efforts at education for sustainable development, sustainability research, campus greening, and social outreach."

The ranking has six criteria: Setting and Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Change, Waste, Water, Transportation and Education.

The ranking is based entirely on data submitted by universities and that in itself drastically limits its validity. Also, should the promotion of sustainability, however worthy a cause, be a major concern of universities. Is there nobody else taking an interest in such things?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The QS Subject Rankings

QS has produced rankings of universities by subject. These seem to be quite popular, probably because the methodology and weighting varies from one subject to another so that almost everybody can score well in something.

Outside the top forty or fifty in each subject, however, they should not be taken too seriously. They depend on only two or three criteria in varying combinations, the academic survey, the employer survey and citations per paper.

So, citations per paper contribute 50% of the weighting for biology and earth sciences but nothing for English and 10% for philosophy and sociology. A high score for biology could be the result of a large number of citations, indicating -- perhaps -- a substantial research impact. A high score for English (language and literature) is largely due to the survey of academic opinion, a rather dubious instrument.

Anyway, MIT is first for these subjects:

Computer Science
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Economics and Econometrics
Physics and Astronomy 
Materials Science

Harvard for these:

Modern Languages
Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Earth and Marine Sciences
Politics and International Studies

Oxford for these:


Stanford for these:

Environmental Sciences
Statistics and Operational Research
Communication and Media Studies

and Cambridge for:

English Literature and Language.

As we get to the lower reaches of these rankings, the number of responses to the surveys or the  number of citations gets amaller so that trivial changes in the number of citations will lead .

Monday, July 09, 2012

El Naschie vs.Nature

The journal Nature has been totally vindicated. The judgement by Mrs Victoria Sharp has dismissed El Naschie's claims. I would be very surprised if there has ever been a more unambiguous judgement .
To review the case, at the end of 2008 Nature published an article, Self-publishing editor set to retire, which described how Mohamed El Naschie, the editor of the applied mathematics/theoretical physics journal, Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, had published an unusually large number of his own papers, which were of poor quality, without proper peer review. Furthermore, the journal had acquired a falsely high impact factor through self-citation and citation by a limited number of friends and disciples.

El Naschie sued Nature and author Quirin Schiermeier for libel. Now, Mrs Justice Sharp has found for the defendants.

The case is of interest to this blog since it was the citation of El Naschie's papers by himself and a few associates that contributed to  Alexandria University's reaching fourth place for research impact in the 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) World university Rankings, powered by Thomson Reuters (TR). El Naschie did not, of course, do it all by himself. TR's methodology inflated his citations because they were recent, because they were assigned to a low citing field, applied maths, and becuse he was affiliated to a university in a low citing region. Since then TR has tweaked its citation indicator to avoid the repetition of such a strange result.

This is a victory for academic freedom although one wonders what would have happened if El Naschie had chosen a critic with a less substantial bank account.

Here are some comments. First place goes to El Naschie Watch which has been following the affairs of EL Naschie for some time.

El Naschie Watch


BBC News

New Scientist


Times Higher Education

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Power and Responsibility: The Growing Influence of Global Rankings

My article can be accessed at University World News. Comments can be submitted here.