Friday, May 29, 2015

University Ranking Challenge: Your starter for 5,154

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, has indicated that the publication of a paper from the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider project is a challenge for rankers.

The paper in question has a total of 5,154 authors, if that is the right word, with sole or primary affiliation to 344 institutions. Of those authors 104 have a secondary affiliation. One is deceased. Under THE's current methodology every institution contributing to the paper will get credit for all the citations that the paper will receive, which is very likely to run into the thousands.

For the elite universities  participating in these projects a few thousand citations will make little or no difference. But for for a small specialised institution or a large one that does little research, those citations spread out over a few hundred papers could make a big difference.

In last year's rankings places like Florida Institute of Technology, Universite Marrakesh Cadi Ayyad, Morroco, Federico Santa Maria Technical University, Chile, Bogazici University, Turkey, got implausibly high scores for citations that were were well ahead of those for the other criteria.

The paper in question does set a record for the number of contributors although the challenge is not particularly new.

At a seminar in Moscow earlier this year, Baty suggested that THE, now independent of Thomson Reuters, was considering using fractionated counting, dividing all the citations among the contributing institutions.

This would be an excellent idea and should be technically quite feasible since CWTS at Leiden University use it as their default option.

But there would be a a price to pay. The current methodology allows THE to boast that it has found a way of uncovering hitherto unnoticed pockets of excellence. It is also a selling point in THE's imperial designs of expanding into regions where there has so far been little interest in ranking, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, the BRICS. A few universities in those regions could make a splash in the rankings if they recruited, even as an adjunct, a researcher working on the LHC project.

It would be most welcome if THE does start using fractionated counting in its citation indication. Also welcome would be some other changes: not counting self-citation, reducing the weighting for the indicator, including several different methods of evaluating research impact or quality, and, especially important, getting rid of the "regional modification" that awards a bonus for being located in a low scoring country.

Friday, May 22, 2015

An Experiment Using LinkedIn Data to Rank Arab Universities

University World News recently published an article by Rahul Choudaha suggesting that LinkedIn is the future of global rankings. At the moment that sounds a bit exaggerated and LinkedIn in its present form may be gone in a decade but he could be on to something.

Leaving Europe, North America and East Asia aside, the reliability of institutional data is very low and that makes serious evaluation of graduate outcomes, staff quality, income, teaching resources and so on extremely difficult.

This problem is especially acute for the Middle East and North Africa region where there appears to be a big demand for university rankings but little accurate information. The consequence has been some highly implausible results in the rankings attempted so far. Last year THE produced a "snapshot"of a ranking indicator which put Texas A&M Qatar as the top university for research impact.and QS's pilot rankings have the American University of Sharjah in joint first place for academic reputation, Al-Nahrain University top for faculty student ratio and Khalifa University top for papers per faculty.

So, here is a list of Arab universities ordered by the number of students or professionals putting them on the Decision Board, indicating an interest in attending Counting was done on the 14th of May.

If this approximates to reputation among students and the public then it seems that Egyptian universities have been undervalued n previous ranking exercises.

RankUniversityCountryInterested in attending
1  Helwan UniversityEgypt422
2American University in CairoEgypt394
3Arab Academy of Science, Technology and
Maritime Transport
4  Cairo University Egypt353
5Ain Shams UniversityEgypt245
6Alexandria UniversityEgypt230
7King Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsSaudi Arabia211
8American University of BeirutLebanon193
9École Nationale Polytechnique d'AlgerAlgeria184
10King Saud UniversitySaudi Arabia138
11Lebanese American UniversityLebanon133
12American University in DubaiUAE131
13Qatar UniversityQatar102
14American University of SharjahUAE91
15King Abdullah University of Science and TechnologySaudi Arabia  85
16=Al Azhar UniversityEgypt78
16=University of DubaiUAE78
18Damascus UniversitySyria73
19University of DammamSaudi Arabia70
20=Mansoura Univerdity Egypt68
20=Houari Boumediene University of Science and
22UAE UniversityUAE62
23Higher Colleges of TechnologyUAE58
24=Tanta UniversityEgypt51
24=German University in CairoEgypt51
26Zagazig UniversityEgypt50
27=Suez Canal UniversityEgypt43
27=King Abdulaziz UniversitySaudi Arabia43
27=Umm Al-Qura UniversitySaudi Arabia43
30=Abu Dhabi UNiversityUAE33
30=Ajman University of Science & TechnologyUAE33
32Assiut UniversitEgypt32
33Université Mentouri de ConstantineAlgeria27
34Université LibanaiseLebanon26
35Al-Imam Mohamed Ibn Saud
Islamic University
Saudi Arabia23
36Université Saad Dahlab BlidaAlgeria22
37Prince Sultan UniversitySaudi Arabia21
38=King Faisal UniversitySaudi Arabia20
38=Université Mouloud Mammeri de Tizi OuzoAlgeria20
40Université Badji Mokhtar de AnnabaAlgeria19
41Khalifa UniversityUAE19
42=Université de BatnaAlgeria18
42=Université Cadi Ayyad MarrakechMorocco18
44=King Khalid UniversitySaudi Arabia17
44=Sanaa UniversityYemen17
46University of BejaiaJordan16
47=Zayed UniversityUAE14
47=Université Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah Morocco14
49=Masdar Intiute of Science and TechnologyUAE13
49=Université d'OranAlgeria13
51=Yarmouk UniversityJordan12
51=Universite de Tunis El ManarTunisia12
53=Texas A&M QatarQater11
53=University of SharjahUAE11
53=Minia UniversityEgypt11
53=University of TunisTunisia11
53=Universite de MonastirTunisia11
58=University of JordanJordan10
58=Benha UniversityEgypt10
58=University of BahrainBahrain10
61Taif UniversitySaudi Arabia0
62Kuwait UniversityKuwait0
63University of BaghdadIraq0
64University of KhartoumSudan0
65Jordan University of Science and TechnologyJordan0
66Mosul UniversityIraq0
67Qassim UniversitySaudi Arabia0
68Taibah UniversitySaudi Arabia0
69Hashemite UniversityJordan0
70Université Abou Bekr Belkaid TlemcenAlgeria0
71Al Balqa Applied UniversityAlgeria0
72Babylon UniversityIraq0
73South Valley UniversityEgypt0
74Meoufia UniversityEgypt0
75Fayoum UniversityEgypt0
76Sohag UniversityEgypt0
77Beni-Suef UniversityEgypt0
78Jazan UniversitySaudi Arabia0
79Universite de SfaxTunisia0
80Al Nahrain UniversityIraq0
81University of BasrahIraq0
82King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for
Health Sciences
Saudi Arabia0
83Université Mohammed V AgdalMorocco0
84Alfaisal UniversitySaudi Arabia0
85Arabian Gulf UniversityBahrain0
86=Petroleum Institute Abu DhabiUAE0
86=National Engineering School of SfaxTunisia0
88Mutah UniversityJordan0
89Kafrelsheikh UniversityEgypt0
90Université de Carthage (7 de Novembre)Tunisia0
91University of BalamandLebanon0
92Beirut Arab UniversityLebanon0
93Université Hassan II MohammadiaMorocco0
94Universite de SousseTunisia0
95Université Abdelmalek EssaadiMorocco0
96Petra UniversityJordan0
97Djillali Liabes UniversityAlgeria0
98Université Ferhat Abbas SetifAlgeria0
99Princess Sumaya University for TechnologyJordan0
100Université de la ManoubaTunisia0
101Université Ibn Tofail KénitraMorocco0
102Université Saint Joseph de BeyrouthLebanon0
103Université de GabesTunisia0
104Université Mohammed Premier OujdaMorocco0
105Mohamed Boudiaf University of Science
and Technology
106Sultan Qaboos UniversityOman0

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to improve your total Contribution in the academic caldener.

I have received several invitations over the last few months to let a team of consultants write up my research and get me into an ISI or Scopus journal. The most recent was from something called Prime Journal Consultants. It is hard to believe that anyone could be so naive as to pay money to someone who writes so badly but who knows? Maybe Chris Olsen has got a doctorate now.

Or maybe standards at Scopus and Thomson Reuters journals are not what they used to be.

Anyway, here is the first part of the message.

"The Most valuable part of your research is the data and study that you have already conducted, its time now to use the study and with our expert assistance create a complete research paper out of it and get it published to the highest impact factor ISI or Scopus Indexed journals to earn Recognition and Promotion.

The Contribution of Research Article Publishing Towards your Promotion
Publication is both a measure of a scholar’s knowledge and also a benchmark for academic success. The minimum percentage for promotion in terms of Research Publication is at least 35-40% of your total Contribution in the academic caldener.

Common Misconception About ISI publishing -Book A Dedicated Consultant Today
ISI Publishing is a time consuming process, The Genuine ISI journals would take time after getting you through rigorous revisions and edits. That is where our Dedicated Consultants Come in to assist you take you through theentire steps to get you an ISI acceptance."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The March of Pseudoscience Stumbles a BIt

Pseudoscience continues to thrive in the West. Although -- I think -- no longer offered by universities, homeopathy is still viewed with favour by many in the British establishment, including the Prince of Wales, and has received official recognition in Canada.

Meanwhile in Malaysia Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) has produced an anti-hysteria kit consisting of things like chopsticks,  lime, salt, vinegar and pepper spray, which will repel evil spirits. The kit sells for Ringgit 8,750, which includes training and technical support

The Malaysian religious authorities have been more sceptical than the British royal family and treated the kits with derision. UMP has replied by claiming the kit was based on scientific research, although it has not said where the research was published

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Geography of Excellence: the Importance of Weighting

So finally, the 2015 QS subject rankings were published. It seems that the first attempt was postponed when the original methodology produced implausible fluctuations, probably resulting from the volatility that is inevitable when there are a small number of data points -- citations and survey responses -- outside the top 50 for certain subjects.

QS have done some tweaking, some of it aimed at smoothing out the fluctuations in the responses to their academic and employer surveys.

These rankings look at bit different from the World University Rankings. Cambridge has the most top ten placings (31), followed by Oxford and Stanford (29 each), Harvard (28), Berkeley (26) and MIT (16).

But in the world rankings MIT is in first place, Cambridge second, Imperial College London third, Harvard fourth and Oxford and University College London joint fifth.

The subject rankings use two indicators from the world, the academic survey and the employer survey but not internationalisation, student faculty ratio and citations per faculty. They add two indicators, citations per paper and h-index.

The result is that the London colleges do less well in the subject rankings since they do not benefit from their large numbers of international students and faculty. Caltech, Princeton and Yale also do relatively badly probably because the new rankings do not take account of their low faculty student faculty ratios.

The lesson of this is that if weighting is not everything, it is definitely very important.

Below is a list of universities ordered by the number of top five placings. There are signs of the Asian advance --  Peking, Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore -- but it is an East Asian advance.

Europe is there too but it is Cold Europe -- Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden -- not the Mediterranean.

RankUniversityCountryNumber of Top Five Places
1   HarvardUSA26
4   StanfordUSA17
5=UC BerkeleyUSA16
7London School of EconomicsUK7
8=University College LondonUK3
8=ETH ZurichSwitzerland 3
10=New York UniversityUSA2
10=Yale  USA2
10=Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands2
10=National University of SingaporeSingapore2
10=UC Los AngelesUSA2
10=UC DavisUSA2
10=Cornell USA2
10=Wisconsin - MadisonUSA2
10=Imperial College LondonUK2
20=University of Southern California USA1
20=Pratt Institute, New YorkUSA1
20=Rhode Island School of DesignUSA1
20=Parsons: the New School for Design USA1
20=Royal College of Arts LondonUK1
20=Sciences PoFrance1
20=University of PennsylvaniaUSA1
20=London Business SchoolUK1
20=Royal Veterinary College LondonUK1
20=UC San FranciscoUSA1
20=Johns  HopkinsUSA1
20=KU LeuvenUSA1
20=Hong KongHong Kong1
20=Karolinska InstituteSweden1
20=Carnegie Mellon UniversityUSA1
20=Georgia Institute ofTechnologyUSA1

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Are all subjects the same?

University rankers seem to be moving towards the field  normalization of citations data. In 2010 Times Higher Education and Thomson Reuters started using it for their world rankings. The scores for citations did not reflect the absolute number of citations or even citations per paper or per faculty but citations per paper in relation to the world average for 250 fields. Normalisation by year of citation was added to the process. I have heard that QS is considering normalization by five subject groups. Meanwhile THE has switched to Scopus as a data source and they apparently have 300 fields.

This is justified by the claim that it is unfair that an outstanding paper in history or philosophy should be given the same value as a mediocre one in medicine or physics, something that could happen if only the number of citations were counted.  Perhaps, but that assumes that all subjects are equal even if society values them differently and provides more money for some fields and even if they require different levels of cognitive ability.

The website The Tab provides evidence from the Complete Universities Guide (still searching for the original data) that in the UK there are substantial differences in the grades required by universities for various subjects.

The five most difficult subjects measured by points for grades (Advanced level A = 120) are:

Chemical Engineering

The least difficult are:

Business and Management
Accounting and Finance
American Studies

This is for undergraduate education in the UK. Looking at future majors of GRE test takers in the US we find something similar Philosophers, physicists and economists are very much brighter than future accountants, social workers, education specialists and public administrators. Engineers perform poorly for verbal aptitude but better for mathematical aptitude. See here and here.

Does it make sense that the average paper in a demanding discipline like physics or philosophy should be treated as exactly the same as the average paper in education or sociology?