Friday, May 23, 2014

The Twitter Rankings

Coldlime, an Internet marketing company has produced rankings of British and American universities according to Twitter activity.

The five most influential universities in the UK are:

1.   Plymouth
2.   Glasgow
3.   Birmingham
4.   East Anglia
5.   Swansea

The top five in the US are:

1.   Texas at Austin
2.   Wisconsin at Madison
3.   Indiana at Bloomington
4.   Harvard
5.   Florida

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Update on Alexandria University

I recently wrote that Alexandria University might be making a comeback. There is some more evidence that this might be the case. The Leiden Ranking now includes 750 universities and Alexandria is there. For most subjects and settings it does not do particularly well but there do seem to be some widely cited publications in Earth and Environmental Sciences plus, of course, a high score for citations in Maths, Computer Science and Engineering. There are not enough papers in Cognitive Sciences and Social Sciences to be ranked.

I received a comment on the previous Alexandria post from "Nadia" that appeared to praise Dr El Naschie and also made apparently defamatory remarks about a British judge and at least two Egyptian public figures. Since this blog has a policy of not publishing possibly libellous comments, it was not approved. However, if "Nadia" should wish to send a comment that is comprehensible and does not contain personal attacks, it will be published. It would help if she or he could verify her identity.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Global Elite Threatened by New Rivals?

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University has produced its annual Leiden Ranking. I hope to write something more general in a couple of days but for the moment here is an elaboration on a brilliant headline by Julie Hare in The Australian.

UTS kicks Harvard's butt in ranking

Well, sort of.  CWTS provide data for nine different indicators and seven different subject groups and there are settings for size and fractional counting. In addition you can vary the number of papers required for inclusion. 

Try clicking on Medical Sciences and Impact Indicator PP (proportion of articles in the top 10% of journals), keeping the default settings for size-independence and fractional counting and making sure the threshold stays at 100 papers. First is Rockefeller University which had 305 papers in Medical Sciences over a four year period, of which a third were in the top 10% of journals. University of Technology Sydney (UTS) had 115 papers and 22 % of those are in the top 10% of journals, that is 6.325 (remember this is fractional counting) papers a year.

Poor Harvard is fifth with 11,958 papers in Medical Sciences of which 2,523.138 are in the top tenth. But that is only 21.1 % .

Change the threshold to 500 papers and UTS disappears. Stop using fractional counting and it goes down to 20th. Uncheck "calculate size-independent indicators" and it sinks to 438th.

There is nothing wrong with presenting data in this much detail: in fact it can be very valuable. There are very probably a few very able researchers at UTS and it is helpful that they have been uncovered. But it would not be a good idea if research grants were to flow to UTS or students to apply there because of a handful of excellent papers a year in one subject.

So, if you manipulate the settings and parameters, there is a good chance that all sorts of institutions will display a pocket of excellence or two. For citations in Cognitive Sciences the University of Puerto Rico (102 papers) is ahead of University College London. For citations in Earth and Environmental Sciences Universiti Sains Malaysia is ahead of Rice. For high quality papers in Maths, Computer Science and Engineering Universiti Malaya beats Yale and for citations Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia is fourth in the world, although it disappears if the threshold is moved to 500 papers.

Again, this could be useful information but it would be dangerous to assume that these universities now present a major threat to Oxbridge and the Ivy League.

And yes, Alexandria University is there in 211th place for citations (check for size-independent calculations, check for fractional counting, set the threshold at 100 papers) for Maths, Computer Science and Engineering.

Bibliography 1

The European Journal of Education has a special free issue on university rankings. See HERE.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Under-50 Universities: Comparing THE and QS

Times Higher Education has just released its list of new universities, those that are less than 50 years old.
The top ten are:
1.   Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech)
2.   EPF Lausanne
3.   Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
4.   Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
5.   Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
6.   Maastricht University
7.   University of California Irvine
8.   Universite Paris-Sud 11
9.   Universite Marie et Pierre Curie
10. Lancaster University

And here are the top ten from QS's top new universities:

1.   Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
2.   Nanyang Technological University
3.   KAIST
4.   City University of Hong Kong
5.   Pohang University of Science and Technology
6.   Maastricht
7.   University of California Irvine
8.   Hong Kong Polytechnic University
9.   Autonomous University of Barcelona
10. Antwerp University

In some respects the two lists are quite similar. KAIST is in 3rd place, Maastrict in 6th and Irvine in 7th in both lists.Both have two Korean institutions in the top five.

However, there are some noticeable differences, showing the effect of methodology and weighting. There are three Hong Kong universities in QS's top ten but only one in THE's, probably reflecting the greater weight given to internationalisation and reputation in the former. City University of Hong Kong is 4th in the QS rankings and 17th in THE's. Hong Kong Polytechnic University gets 8th and 30th place.

Meanwhile the two French universities in the THE top ten, helped by very substantial scores for citations, are not ranked at all by QS although they had more than enough points in the world rankings. This could be because there are different interpretations about when full university status was achieved.