(29 October 2016) U.S. News released its third Best Global University Rankings on 25 October 2016. The first edition in May 2015 (RR 11) ranks 500 universities on ten indicators. The October 2015 edition (RR 15) has 750 institutions and 12 indicators. This latest edition has 1,000 ranked universities with an additional 262 included only in subject rankings.
The methodology has differed in each edition. In October 2015 it added books and conference papers to publications. It changed the methodology again in this ranking replacing the number of doctoral degrees awarded in total and the number of doctoral degrees awarded per academic staff member with the total number of highly cited papers in the top one percent of their respective fields and the percent of a university’s total papers that are among the top one percent of most cited papers. All data comes from Clarivate Analytics, formerly the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters. 75% of the rankings are based on bibliometrics, the other 25% on reputation. The newest world rankings include nine of the same ten universities as the past two years, with some changes in order. Princeton moved up from 13 last year to join the top ten while University of Chicago dropped to 13. (Table 1, Top 10 Universities)
The additional 10% weighting for bibliometrics has led to a noticeable drop in world rankings for Asian universities (confirmed by Morse, 2016). 75% of the indicators are from bibliometric data, with 40% of the weighting coming from different citation measurements. While nine of the ten top Asian universities are the same as last year’s list, their world rankings have dropped. Only Tsinghua went up in world rankings, by two places, while University of Hong Kong fell by 44 places. (Table 2. Top 10 Asian Universities).
Asia’s loss is Australia’s gain. Two ranked Australian universities maintained the same world rank. All of the rest rose in the world, one over 100 places. (Table 3. Australian Universities)
Table 4 shows the geographic distribution of the universities. China is second to the U.S. in number of universities in the ranking but only around 35% make the top 500. The percent in the top 500 for both Japan and Korea is around 30% while over 65% of the slots are filled by U.S. and Canadian universities.
The message is the same as always. Check the methodology. Citations lag articles and it will take time for Asian citations to catch up.
There are a few frustrations with U.S. News Best Global University Rankings beyond the methodology. It does not include previous years’ rankings and it only ranks on the composite score.
Morse, Robert J., email conversation with U.S. News Chief Data Strategist 26 October, 2106.